Council tax cheats

Monday October 1st 2018

Midlothian Council Fairfield House

Written by Local Democracy Reporter, Marie Sharp

Council tax cheats and benefits fraudsters cost Midlothian Council thousands of pounds as they lied about their home lives, an investigation has revealed.

Over £25,000 a year in unpaid council tax has been uncovered by the investigation into people dishonestly claiming a single person discount, in Midlothian.

And houses which were being illegally sublet were returned to those “in genuine need” saving the local authority just under £1million.

The investigation by Midlothian Council’s Corporate Fraud Team compared its electoral register records with those of people claiming the single person discount – 25 per cent – to identify 36 overpayments equating to £25, 261 in uncollected council tax.

The results were included in Audit Scotland’s National Fraud Investigation report as a case study example of work carried out across local authorities.

In a report to the council’s audit committee this week, it was also revealed investigations by the team had uncovered one person who had claimed more than £14,000 in housing benefit they were not entitled to and was now being investigated by the Department of Work and Pensions.

And it revealed that 54 allegations of potential tenancy fraud had also been looked into resulting in 10 properties which were being illegally sublet or abandoned returning to the council’s housing stock at a saving to the local authority estimated at £930,000 over the next four years.

The report said the properties had been “made available to those in genuine need” following their return.

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