Crackdown on council tax discount fraud

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Council bosses have issued a stern warning to Rotherham residents falsely claiming tax discount.

Rotherham Borough Council has vowed to investigate people claiming for a reduction in council tax based on single person occupancy.

The plea for residents to ensure they are paying the right amount comes following a crackdown which saw 1,960 discounts cancelled last year.

This move increased revenue by £563,000 for the local authority - but the council believes there are many more people who continue to cheat the system.

Government body the Audit Commission has reported that over £200million of Single Person Discounts may be inappropriately awarded nationally - making a huge impact upon budgets of local authorities.

Coun Jahangir Akhtar, deputy leader of Rotherham Council, said: “These people are taking advantage of not only the system but also the genuine council tax payers.

“When the council tax charge is set, the council has to take into account the reduction in the amount due because of people claiming discounts or exemptions.

“We value our residents and it is not fair that some people try to dodge paying.

“Obviously, some fraud will be unintentional as some people simply forget to tell the authority when their circumstances change but it is a statutory requirement for council taxpayers to tell us within 28 days if they think they should no longer qualify.

“So, if you receive a discount you think you should not receive, this is your final chance to tell us, before we contact you.”

Stuart Booth, director of financial services, added: “It could mean some households will have a considerable amount of arrears.”