Benefit fraud crackdown warning

Residents are being urged to inform on people committing benefit fraud in Argyll and Bute.

The council is warning that people who try to claim benefits to which they are not entitled could find themselves with a criminal record, a hefty fine or worse, as agencies work together to fight against benefit fraud in the area.

In the past year, three people have found themselves in court after making false claims for benefits.

Ten more have been formally cautioned and 21 people have accepted administrative penalties – where they must repay a penalty charge of up to 50% of the money they received under false pretences.

Dick Walsh: Crackdown
Dick Walsh: Crackdown

The council has identified £92,718 worth of fraudulent housing and council tax benefit overpayments between April 2013 and January 2014 alone.

By making false statements, not declaring paid work and other means, benefit fraudsters prosecuted in the past year have obtained thousands of pounds.

Council leader Dick Walsh said: ““We recognise that we would not be able to achieve these results without the backing of local people who provide crucial information to our counter fraud officers.

“We would encourage anyone who has information about possible benefit cheats to come forward.

“There are a number of ways that you can do this and you don’t need to give your name. All information is kept confidential and is taken seriously.

“If you suspect that someone is getting money they’re not entitled to, please tell us about it – ultimately you are helping us to make sure that people who really need support will be able to get it.

Anyone suspecting a benefit fraud can call a confidential hotline on 0800 854 440, while the website has a benefit fraud section and report-it form to download here.

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