Inverclyde Council has a legal duty to administer a benefits service to all those who qualify. At the same time, there is a responsibility to ensure that benefit payments are only made to those who have a genuine entitlement. Therefore, the Council's role is to try and prevent fraud from taking place, detect those who are making false claims and reduce the number of fraudulent claims made each year.
Inverclyde Council has trained Benefit Assessors who are responsible for:
- Prevention and detection of fraud and error
- Forwarding suspected fraudulent cases to the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP)
Every year, benefit fraud costs millions of pounds and it's those who are in real need that are most affected. This fraudulently claimed, taxpayers money, could be used to support vital community services such as schools, hospitals and crime reduction.
If you think someone is getting benefits from Inverclyde Council they are not entitled to, you should report your concerns to the DWP giving as much information as you can using the contact details on this page. You can remain completely anonymous and any information given will be treated with total confidence.
The DWP will be looking for the following types of information: The name and address of the person you believe is claiming wrongly and what type of fraud you believe they are committing. If, for example, you believe that someone has an undeclared partner living with them, please provide detailed descriptions of both the claimant and partner, the partner’s name if known, their employer if working, times of the day he/she leaves for, and returns from work, details of any vehicles – make, model, colour, registration number. Detailed information saves investigation time and is more likely to result in a successful conclusion where fraud is being committed.
The DWP will investigate any reported fraud and if they have sufficient evidence they will take legal action against the person. It should be stressed however, that the majority of Housing Benefit claims and Council Tax Reduction applications are genuine and that most claimants are honest
Once an allegation of fraud has been received by the DWP, they will make some initial enquiries to decide if an investigation will take place. The DWP will liaise with the Council to obtain details of previous and current benefit claims. Once all the information has been gathered any case involving Housing Benefit and/or Coucil Tax Reduction will be passed to a Council decision maker to make a decision on whether or not fraud has been found.
Where fraud is found, the person may be subject to one of the following sanctions:
- An Administrative Penalty - this is a penalty of £350 or 50% of the overpayment of benefit (whichever is the greater) arising from the offence
- Report to the Procurator Fiscal – who then decides if proceedings will be brought against the person
In all cases, all overpayments of Housing Benefit will be recovered in full from the person who claimed the benefit.