Benefit fraudsters targeted in council crackdown

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MORE than 230 people were charged with housing benefit fraud during a crackdown in South Yorkshire over the last year.

Rotherham Council took action during 2011/12, with 32 offenders prosecuted and another 201 were cautioned or were issued with penalties.

The authority recovered £2.52 million in overpayments of housing and council tax benefits, made as a result of fraud or overclaims, compared to £2.45m in 2010/11.

One claimant was sentenced to six months’ imprisonment for fraudulently claiming £30,000 in benefits over a 10-year period.

Another received a 10-week custodial sentence for falsely claiming over £12,000.

Rotherham Council also made nine successful prosecutions against fraudulent blue badge permit users.

Details are listed in the authority’s annual fraud report.

Deputy leader and cabinet member for resources Coun Jahangir Akhtar said: “Although the people who commit fraud are only a very small minority, they are attempting to deprive the honest majority of funds that would otherwise be available to them.

“£1 lost to fraud means £1 less for public services. It is only right we should pursue those committing fraud and recover monies."