Undeclared partners or family growing part of welfare fraud


Beneficiaries not declaring their partners or other household members form a high and growing part of welfare fraud in West Lindsey.

A council report says all the probes made by its investigations team in 2013/14 related to Housing and Council Tax benefit.

Nearly 300 referrals were made during the year, with them coming from various sources. The Housing Benefit Matching Service made 210 referrals, the Benefits Team 41 and the council also received 37 anonymous allegations from members of the public.

Around 10 per cent of referrals led to fraud being proven, with the report saying the most significant change in 2013/2014 was a continued increase in claims where single parents fail to declare partner living with them and/or other household changes.

Almost a quarter of fraud cases were the result of undeclared partners living together, it said, and the investigations team now has direct access to a credit referencing service which will speed up investigations of this type.

The investigations team has continued to concentrate on more serious fraud by using a risk scoring mechanism. The value of overpayments attributed to fraud was £166,133.

“In the most serious cases, fraudsters are prosecuted at the Magistrates Court. Between April 1 2013 and 31 March 2014, 17 fraudsters were prosecuted. This is an increase in the processing of files for prosection. From April 2012, the Crown Prosecution Service took over the checking of files presented and booking them into court when accepted. They have been seriously overloaded with work and therefore the process has taken much longer than previously,” it added.