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Doncaster Council counting the cost of benefit fraud

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False claims for cash by benefit fraudsters are costing Doncaster Council more than half a million pounds a year.

The council has been ranked second in a benefit fraud table of shame which lists 47 local authorities in the north of the country.

Benefit fraud in Doncaster has cost the taxpayer £653,972 in the last year alone. A new report reveals there were 1,052 cases detected in Doncaster, compared to the northern average of 266 housing and council tax benefit frauds.

Of those, 12 claimants were awarded benefits totalling over £10,000, which they were not entitled to.

The ranking is revealed in a Doncaster Council’s annual fraud report which is due to go before the audit committee on Thursday.

The document summarises work which has taken place to prevent and detect fraud and corruption.

In total the authority paid out over £121m to housing and council tax benefits claimants between 2013 and 2014. A Doncaster Council spokesman said: “It is recognised that the majority of people claiming benefits are honest and declare their correct circumstances when claiming benefits. Unfortunately there are some who deliberately set out to defraid the benefit system.”

The council investigated 814 potential fraudulent benefit cases in 2013 to 2014 compared with 1,052 between 2012 and 2013 when there were 45 prosecutions.

The spokesperson said: “These latest benefit fraud figures emphasise not only Doncaster Council’s zero tolerance approach to benefit fraud, but also our success in effectively tackling the problem.

“We concentrate resources on cases where there is a greater chance of prosecution, resulting in a decreased use of cautions and financial penalties, but a 50 per cent increase in the number of successful prosecutions.

“This risk-based, targeted approach is why Doncaster has the second highest detection rate of benefit fraud in the UK. These figures send out a clear message – that we will not tolerate fraudulent abuse, and that the council, along with its partners, is committed to tackling offenders.”

Suspected benefit fraud can be reported by calling the National Benefit Fraud Hotline on 0800 854440, or Textphone users call 0800 3280512.

 

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