Councils need to put more effort into combatting benefit fraud, finds survey

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20th May 2015 16:15 - Local Government

A new survey has revealed that the public believe fraudulent housing benefit claims are the biggest problem which local councils face. Councils need to put more effort into combatting benefit fraud, finds survey

The survey of the general public was conducted by Callcredit Information Group and discovered that 66 per cent of the respondents feel that unlawful housing benefit claims were the biggest problem to local government.

Of those surveyed, 55 per cent said that they were worried about the large number of people unlawfully sub-letting social housing.

53 per cent of the respondents believed that falsely claiming the single person discount on social housing was a big problem to councils.

The findings also showed that the public would like the money lost through tenancy fraud to be spent on providing more affordable housing, should the councils ever recover the money. It is estimated that £1.8 billion per year is lost through tenancy fraud.

Of those who participated in the survey, 40 per cent believed that any money recovered should be spent on improving the local health service and 28 per cent would like it to be invested in improving the local roads and pavements.

Director of the Public Sector at Callcredit Information Group, Andrew Davis, said of the findings:

“Housing benefit fraud and error cost the taxpayer around £1.2bn per year and single person discount fraud is currently responsible for an estimated £90m fraud loss per year.”

“These figures combined with our results highlight that local authorities need to do to more to reduce tenancy fraud and show the public they are taking action to improve fraud and error detection. The savings could make a significant contribution to the public purse and could be used to build more affordable homes, which are urgently needed.”

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