By Tim Clarke 31/07 Updated: 31/07 14:17
COUNCILS are set to get tough and clamp down on people falsely claiming a discount on their council tax bill.
Wychavon, Worcester City and Malvern Hills district councils are repeating an exercise from 2009 which led to the removal of nearly 1,500 false single person discount (SPD) claimants, saving the councils nearly £600,000.
There are currently just over 40,000 people in south Worcestershire claiming the discount which reduces a council tax bill by 25 per cent. But there are occasions when residents’ circumstances change and they either forget to tell the council or intentionally withhold the information.
The review is being carried out with the help of Northgate Information Systems in an effort to root out households who may not be correctly in receipt of the discount.
Nick Jefferies, head of revenues and benefits shared service, said: “We recognise that from time to time circumstances change in any household and remembering to tell us of a change may be overlooked.
"But there are also people who deliberately choose not to inform us when they are no longer entitled to the discount and this could constitute a criminal offence."
“Where someone is incorrectly in receipt of the single person discount this adds to the financial burden on councils and tax payers. During these difficult times it is important we ensure only those who are entitled to this discount actually receive it.”
Northgate will contact discounted households where it appears there is more than one person over the age of 18 living at the property to check whether their claim is still legitimate. This may include an interview with the claimant to help identify if fraud is being committed. The three councils have warned they will take a firm line with people found to be making a false claim.
Anyone who has not notified their council of a change in circumstances is urged to call 01905 822733 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
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