Scores of residents have been prosecuted and the thousands of pounds of cash they were not entitled to reclaimed, as Rhondda Cynon Taf Council’s Counter Fraud team continues its ongoing and proactive work.
For the fourth consecutive year, the team has identified over £1m of irregular and fraudulent payments made to benefit claimants in the county borough, leading to formal action being taken against 153 people.
Sixty residents who claimed benefits they were not entitled to were successfully prosecuted and received a range of sanctions from the courts, including imprisonment and fines.
A further 35 were fined by the Council and will have to pay not only the amount they fraudulently claimed, but a further 50 per cent of that sum on top. Fifty eight people received a formal warning.
As well as the action against individuals for their fraudulent claims, the Council also uses the Proceeds of Crime Act in all of its investigations. The important legislation allows for the restraint of money and assets held or owned by a benefit fraud and their subsequent seizure/recovery through the courts.
Rhondda Cynon Taf Council is determined to ensure benefits and other financial support are available to those who are entitled to them and need them the most.
It is also committed to dealing effectively with those who claim benefits and advantages they are not entitled to.
This work is clearly set out in the Anti Fraud and Corruption Policy, which sets out how the Counter Fraud team will work and why.
Working with other partner agencies, including the Department for Work and Pensions, South Wales Police and the Wales Illegal Money Lending Unit, the team investigates a wide range of suspected frauds, including housing and council tax benefit/reduction and also other issues such as Council Tax exemption or discount, housing renovation grants and insurance claims. They have recently extended their work to cover Social Service’s Direct Payment scheme, where people are paid to provide care for others.
In 2014/15 the Counter Fraud Team will be conducting wide-ranging data matching exercises with other sections and departments of the Council in a bid to identify those that have provided conflicting information in order to obtain benefits or services.
Nick Jones, Service Director (Operational Finance) , said: “The Council is committed to ensuring each and every penny paid out in benefits, grants and financial assistance is only given to those who are entitled to it and need it the most.
“This is the fourth consecutive year the Counter Fraud Team has identified over £1m of fraudulent or irregular payments made, which is testament to the commitment and tenacity of our officers – and those in partner agencies – who are working on behalf of Rhondda Cynon Taf’s communities.
“This should serve as a reassurance to many that we are working to identify and deal with those who committ fraud, but also as a warning to those who are, or are considering, defrauding the taxpayer through fraudulent claims.
“If you are in receipt of benefits, grants or discounts and your personal or financial circumstances have changed, please ensure you make contact with the Council as this may affect the level of benefits, allowances or discounts you receive.”
If you believe a potential fraud is being committed you can report this to Rhondda Cynon Taf Council on the Counter-Fraud Hotline (01443 680598) or contact the National Benefit Fraud Hotline (0800 854440). Calls are taken anonymously and you don’t need to provide your name.
Find out more on the Counter Fraud Pages