Housing benefit and council tax reduction fraud

Benefit fraud

It has been shown from research that most people do not realise the level of benefit fraud that is committed nationally and many people see it as a victimless crime. However, it is estimated that £2 billion a year is lost through people claiming money they are not entitled to. That is the equivalent of £80 for every household in Britain.

Housing benefit and council tax reduction are public funds and the London Borough of Camden has a responsibility to safeguard these funds and make sure the right people get the right benefit. The benefit system relies on the integrity of our customers and fortunately most people are honest. There is, however, a small minority who make fraudulent claims for benefit or who do not inform us of changes in their circumstance that would affect the amount of benefit they receive.

We have a trained team of investigation officers dedicated to stopping those people who obtain benefit by fraudulent means.

We are committed to:

  • preventing and detecting fraud
  • investigating efficiently
  • stopping or reducing payment in fraudulent cases
  • prosecuting offenders where appropriate

What types of benefit fraud are there?

Typical types of benefit fraud are:

  • failure to declare work. This usually involves claimants who are in receipt of housing benefit or council tax benefit on the basis of entitlement to job seekers allowance/income support, but who are in fact working.
  • not declaring the full amount of income, savings or capital they have. All of these affect a persons entitlement and non declaration of any of them may result in too much benefit being paid
  • failing to declare ownership of another property. In these cases they are often receiving rent for the other property which they also do not declare as income.
  • false claims by homeowners. This is where the owner of a property falsely states that he or she is paying rent to occupy what is, in fact, his or her own property, usually inventing a fictitious landlord to do so.
  • not declaring that partners or other people (non dependants) are resident in the household. In these cases the partner or non dependants are usually working and this would affect the claimants benefit entitlement
  • claiming from a fictitious address. This fraud may occur where a person is claiming for an address they have never lived at. This type of offence may occur with the collusion of the landlord or other tenants.
  • failing to declare change of address. This is where a claimant fails to declare that he/she has moved, but continues to accept payments of housing benefit for their previous address.
  • landlord fraud. There are many ways other ways in which landlords and managing agents can defraud the benefit system, a typical example is where a landlord continues to receive benefit paid directly to him/her after the claimant has vacated the premises,

Fraudulent over-payments

An overpayment may be treated as fraudulent if the local authority can establish that, on the balance of probabilities, there has been either:

  • a breach of Section 111A, 112(1) or 112(1A) of the Social Security Administration Act 1992 or
  • there has been a failure to report a relevant change of circumstances, contrary to the requirements of Regulation 75 of the Housing Benefit (General) Regulations 1987

Help us stop benefit fraud

If you think someone is committing benefit fraud it is important that you let us know. Please provide as much information as you can about the person and why you think they are committing benefit fraud. Remember that the more information you give the better. Providing extra information may be the difference between prosecuting a benefit fraudster and not being able to prove the offence.

The law says that we must have good reason to investigate a person and we need to target our resources towards cases that we have a good chance of proving. For instance we may get the following two referrals:

Example 1

Mr A is working and claiming

Example 2

Mr A is working and claiming. He works at BB’s garage in the High Street. He leaves the house in oily overalls everyday at about 7.30am and he returns at approximately 5.30pm. He drives an old red Ford Escort. His hair is brown and cut very short and he has a moustache

We would not be able to investigate the first example, as it does not give enough grounds to start an investigation. We would be able to investigate the second example, as it not only tells us what fraud you think is being committed but also gives us enough information to start our enquiries.

What we do with your report

We look at every report we receive however investigations can take some time and it should not be obvious to the person concerned that they are under investigation. The law says we have to keep information about people confidential, so we cannot give progress reports to the person who reported the possible fraud.

When we receive a report of benefit fraud we will check the persons benefit claim to confirm whether they have declared the information given. If not the investigation team will gather information to support the allegation, for example, from employers, banks and building societies. We will then try to establish the facts and take further action if appropriate.

If it is proven that a person has committed benefit fraud we will always recover the amount of benefit they have received fraudulently. Depending on the circumstances we may also:

  • prosecute
  • issue a formal caution
  • issue an administration penalty

For further information on the action we can take, please see our Sanction Policy:

How you can contact us

  • You can telephone the fraud hotline number on 0800 328 6340. This is a free telephone number. You do not have to give your name if you do not wish, just the details of the suspected fraud. The information you give will be treated confidentially and investigated fully.
  • contact your benefit office
  • report benefit fraud online
Would you like to provide feedback?(Click to show feedback form)

Please rate this page to help us improve camden.gov.uk. Please don't include your contact details as we are unable to provide responses via this form. To get in touch please click here.

Please select one of the options.

Thank you for your feedback.