Who we are and what we do?
Our Benefit Investigation Team is committed to preventing, detecting and investigating Housing and Council Tax Benefit fraud in Stoke-on-Trent.
We will take all action necessary to identify fraud and error if suspected. We pledge to pursue recovery of losses and the suitable punishment of those responsible. We're working hard to stop Housing and Council Tax Benefit fraud and have powers to investigate and prosecute offences relating to other social security benefits where Housing Benefit and/or Council Tax Benefit has been claimed.
We have a dedicated team of professionally trained investigators who use a range of far-reaching powers - including surveillance and authority to check employee details, investments, savings, bank accounts and utility bills - to help them uncover and investigate allegations of benefit fraud received from members of the public, staff, elected members, other government departments and from the results of national and local data matching exercises.
We have an excellent working relationship with partners in the Department for Work and Pensions and Staffordshire Police
and with other departments in the council.
What is Benefit Fraud?
A vast majority of people who get benefit are genuine and entitled to claim, however some people deliberately fail to report a change in their circumstances or lie in order to claim Housing and Council Tax Benefit and/or Social Security Benefits that they would not otherwise get. The benefit fraudster can be a claimant acting alone or with the help of a third party, for example a landlord or employer or partner.
Greedy fraudsters cost the UK tax payer £100 per second in fraudulently claimed benefits. It is your taxes that are paying for their luxuries and it's money that could be spent on improving services for people in real need.
Benefit Fraud is a criminal offence and if we think someone is fraudulently claiming benefit we will investigate them. If we find evidence to prove that a person is committing fraud they may be fined, receive an official caution or be prosecuted which could result in a prison sentence. In any event we always recover the total amount of benefit which has been overpaid. In certain circumstances we may also confiscate further monies or assets if they are believed to be the proceeds of crime.
What types of fraud are there?
- work but do not declare this when they claim benefit;
- claim benefit as a single person but actually live with a partner;
- have other people living in their property and don't tell us;
- claim for an address but don't actually live there;
- don't tell us their full amount of income, savings or capital when they claim benefit;
- pretend to rent a property which they actually own;
- continue to claim benefit on a property after they have moved; or
- don't have the right given their true circumstances to claim Housing Benefit and/or Council Tax Benefit.
How can you help us prevent Benefit Fraud?
Benefit Fraud is not a victimless crime and can affect us all. Don't help people who lie to us. This could mean you are also committing a crime and you could be prosecuted.
Stoke-on-Trent City Council will not tolerate Benefit Fraud.
Say NO if someone:
- who is not living at your address asks you if they can have their post delivered to your address;
- asks you to sign a form to say they earn less than you are paying them;
- asks you to sign a form to say that they are working for you when they are not;
- asks you to sign a tenancy agreement to say they are charged more rent than they are paying;
- asks you to sign a letter stating that you are charging them rent when you are not; or
- asks you to sign anything which you know is untrue.
Benefits should be paid to those with a genuine entitlement, so if you suspect that someone is committing Benefit Fraud
please report them to us straight away.
How to report someone you suspect is committing Benefit Fraud?
If you suspect that someone is committing Benefit Fraud you should report them straight away.
There are a number of ways you can do this: