North Lincolnshire Council could be saving taxpayers over £60,000 a year in council tax discounts people are falsely claiming.
In a clampdown in Bottesford and Scunthorpe, which represents around half the population of North Lincolnshire, the council found 250 people were claiming council tax discounts they were not entitled to, worth around £60,000.
Between April 2013 and March 2014, the council awarded around 24,000 people a single person discount. The discount is awarded to households where there is only one adult living at the property.
Officials are appealing to people whose circumstances may have changed, and who are no longer eligible for the discount – to contact the council. To report a change in circumstances, please ring 01724 296093 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The council is currently comparing its council tax information with other databases to identify those cases where more than one adult may be living at an address and a discount is being claimed. Forms will be issued to some households to confirm their entitlement to the discount. Those found to be fraudulently receiving a single person discount will have the discount removed and could face a fine and legal action.
The council is advising residents these checks are necessary to reduce fraudulent claims and save money. It is urging people to tell the council if they know of anyone falsely claiming council tax discounts that they are not entitled to. They can do this in confidence through the fraud hotline on 01724 296666. They can also anonymously report fraud online at www.northlincs.gov.uk/reportfraud.
Councillor Neil Poole, cabinet member for Policy and Resources at North Lincolnshire Council, said:
“The vast majority of residents claiming single person discount are genuine. But there are those who continue to flout the law by falsely claiming the discount when they are clearly not entitled to it. It is costing taxpayers thousands of pounds each year – money that could be better used to help keep council tax bills down for all residents.
“We want people to contact us if their circumstances have changed. This will help ensure that we are awarding the right level of discount to those that need it most. And if you know someone who you suspect is claiming discount they are not entitled to, please let us know.”