A small number of people try to defraud the benefit system by claiming money that they are not entitled to. The National Fraud Authority estimate that benefit fraud costs the public sector £1.6 billion each year. This is money which could be better spent on education, healthcare or policing.
From 1 April 2015 the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) have taken over full responsibility for investigating all matters in relation to Housing Benefit fraud. If someone is or has in the past fraudulently claimed any state benefits, you can report this via the Department for Work and Pensions website or by calling the DWP Fraud Hotline on 0800 854440 (Textphone users can call 0800 328 0512).
Benefit fraud is committed when a person:
- makes a false statement in order to gain benefit they would not otherwise be entitled to or
- fails to declare a change of circumstances, that affects their benefit entitlement.
- living with a partner or another adult who is not declared for the purposes of a benefit claim
- failing to declare your true income or the income of any other household member
- failing to declare an occupational pension
- failing to declare savings, capital, investments, property or land
- failing to declare receipt of a student grant bursary or loan
- failing to declare you have vacated a property and continue to accept housing benefit payments
- pretending to rent a property which you actually own
- providing false documents to mislead the council about the true circumstances
By partner we mean a person you are married to or have a civil partnership with (formal agreement that gives same sex partners the same legal status as a married couple) OR a person you live with as if you were their partner. A partner does not have to stay with you seven nights per week but will be classed as resident if your address is their principle home.
A person in your household over the age of 18, who is not your partner, will be classed as a non-dependent for the purpose of assessing your claim. Depending on the individual circumstances, a non-dependent's income will often affect the amount of benefit the claimant is entitled to.
A number of Councils across Hertfordshire have joined forces to create a Shared Anti-Fraud Service (SAFS). This service will provide a robust and resilient fraud prevention and investigation service to its partners, working in all areas of fraud across all Councils. SAFS will be responsible for investigating all fraud matters that are not related to benefits.
Common examples of non-benefit fraud are:
Matters relating to Council Tax Support across similar types to that for Benefit Fraud above
Abuse of position
This is not a complete list.
The following Councils are partners in the shared anti-fraud service:
Broxbourne Borough Council
East Herts Council
Hertsmere Borough Council
Hertfordshire County Council
North Herts District Council
Stevenage Borough Council
This partnership will bring many benefits to all of Hertfordshire's residents - by using shared expertise, training and information to target fraudulent activity across the whole county. If you think someone is committing fraud against one of the Councils in Hertfordshire or have evidence of corruption please visit the SAFS page on Herts Direct or call the SAFS team in confidence on 0300 123 4033.
Any enquiries relating to an ongoing investigation must be directed to the DWP. If they conclude that there is sufficient evidence to demonstrate that an offence has occurred, they may ask Broxbourne Council to re-calculate your Housing Benefit and you will receive notification of this from the benefits section. When the investigation is complete, the DWP will decide if a sanction is appropriate.
It is the claimant's responsibility to keep the Council informed of changes in circumstances at the time they occur. This includes any financial change relating to the claimant or any member of the household or anyone joining or leaving the household. You can find further information on changes in circumstances here.
If you are in any doubt that your benefit is being awarded using inaccurate information please call the Benefits Team on 01992 785503 to discuss your claim.
Changes in circumstances can be reported by completing the online change in circumstances form.