If you know or suspect that someone is committing benefit fraud you can report it anonymously, either to our Fraud Hotline or by completing our on-line form.
Hotline - 0800 0851 637
Housing and Council Tax Reduction Fraud
New Forest District Council has a duty under law to administer a benefits service to those who qualify within its area. At the same time there is a responsibility to ensure that payments are only made to those who are actually entitled to them.
The council has officers who make visits in respect of the:
- Detection of fraudulent claims and stopping or reducing payment in these cases.
- Calculation of overpayments of benefit on the discovery of the true facts.
The council also has a Fraud Investigation Section, which investigates cases of suspected Fraud in relation to Benefit claims and is empowered under legislation to Interview claimants. Where evidence is obtained, offenders can be prosecuted by way of Criminal Court proceedings or other designated sanctions.
Types of Housing/Council Tax Reduction Fraud we deal with:-
- Working and Claiming
- Non Disclosure of Property/Capital
- Non Disclosure of Income
- Non Disclosure of Partner (living together as husband and wife)
- Non-Declaration of Non-Dependants or Sub Tenants
- False Claims by Homeowners
- Failing to Declare Change of Address
- False Address Fraud
- Landlord Fraud
An overpayment can be classified as fraudulent if the Local Authority can establish that there has knowingly or dishonestly been either:
- A false representation to obtain benefit, such as giving false details on a claim form and declaring them to be correct.
- A failure to notify a prompt change of circumstances in respect of a Benefit Claim, such as commencing work and not informing the council as soon as practicable.
- The above offences are covered by Sections 111A & 112 of the Social Security Administration Act 1992 and in certain circumstances the Theft Act 1968.
Sanctions available to the Council
- Prosecutionin the courts
The council is authorised to prosecute persons suspected of Benefit Fraud under Regulation 75 of the Housing Benefit (General) Regulations 1987 and regulation 65 of the Council Tax Benefit (General) Regulations 1992. Persons prosecuted by the council would initially be summonsed to appear before a Magistrates Court.
- Police caution
The Council under a Service Level Agreement with Hampshire Constabulary, are able to refer cases to the Police for the administering of a Police Caution, if it is thought appropriate.
- Administrative penalty
The Social Security Administration Act 1992 (as amended) empowers the council under certain circumstances to levy an Administration Penalty in lieu of prosecution. This entails the claimant agreeing to pay a 30% levy on the fraudulent overpayment calculated.
- Formal caution
In addition under The Social Security Administration Act 1992 (as amended) the council is also able in certain circumstances to administer a Formal Caution. This is not recordable with the Police National Computer but is recorded on a Benefits Database and can be taken into account should that person commit a further offence in the future.
Referral of claims and assessment Files to the Fraud Team
The referral of cases by the Benefits Section is a vital source of information to the Investigations Team and forms the largest proportion of the workload. The Investigations team relies heavily on the quality and quantity of these referrals in order that they have the opportunity to effectively investigate allegations and protect the public funds involved in the payment of benefits. A referral to the Team will be made as soon as suspicion is aroused.
Joint Working/Liaison with the Benefits Agency
The Investigations Team works closely with their opposite numbers at the Department of Work and Pensions as a lot of allegations involve both Housing/Council Tax Benefit and Social Security administered benefits, particularly Income Support and Income Based Job Seekers Allowance. The exchange of information between the Offices is very important when carrying out enquiries. A joint exercise can very often have positive results that individual investigations would not.