Cheats cost us all £12million a year

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Fraud against local councils is reckoned to cost taxpayers £12million a year across Hertfordshire - but a new campaign this week aims to tackle the problem.

‘Know a cheat on your street?’is particularly aimed at tenancy fraud, council tax fraud and Blue Badge fraud.

Since June Herts councils have investigated 175 fraud reports, resulting in eight formal interviews under caution and two arrests. They have identified £425,000 of fraud, including people falsely claiming single person discount on their council tax, a tenant subletting their council property and a fraudulent right to buy application.

In some cases, investigators have worked with the National Fraud Initiative, Herts Police and the Home Office.

It is estimated that each year tenancy fraud alone costs Hertfordshire’s taxpayers £4.5million. Council tax and single person discount fraud are believed to cost around £1.2million, and Blue Badge fraud £200,000.

Chris Hayward, cabinet member for resources and performance at Hertfordshire County Council, said: “All council services are funded by taxpayers, so when people commit tenancy fraud, for example sub-letting a council house; council tax fraud, by saying they live alone when they don’t; or altering a Blue Badge, they are stealing from their whole community.

“It reduces the money available for services that residents need, such as schools, highways, housing, leisure services, community safety, health care and social services.”

Report suspected fraud at www.hertsdirect.org/reportfraud or phone 0300 123 4033.