Benefit fraud is when someone makes a claim for benefit based on information that they know is false or inaccurate. A claim could also become fraudulent if the person claiming benefit has not told us about a change in circumstances that would reduce the amount of benefit they are entitled to. Sometimes, only the person claiming benefit is responsible for benefit fraud and sometimes the landlord, an employer, representative or someone else who helps to fill in the benefit application form may have helped them.
Benefit fraud is a criminal offence. If we think someone is claiming benefit they are not entitled to we will investigate them. If we find evidence to prove that a person is committing fraud, we may prosecute them, make them pay a fine, or issue them with a formal warning, called a caution. In any case, we would be looking to claim back the total amount of benefit which has been overpaid.
In order that a consistent approach to tackling and preventing fraud is achieved it is essential that we have in place an up to date Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit Anti-Fraud Policy. A revised Anti-Fraud Policy was approved in December 2010 by the full Council, which can be viewed by clicking on this link Anti-Fraud Policy
Reporting Benefit Fraud
If you know of or suspect anyone of fraudulently claiming Housing Benefit or Council Tax Reduction you can report this by:
Contact the National Benefit Fraud Hotline on 0800 854 440
(Your call is free and confidential. Lines are open 7.00am - 11.00pm, 7 days a week).
Report a Benefit Thief online at http://www.dwp.gov.uk/campaigns/benefit-thieves/report.asp .
Call our Benefit Section on 01595 744682
Email our Benefit Section email@example.com
Call in person or write to:
Shetland Islands Council
8 North Ness Business Park
Please note all referrals are dealt with in the strictest confidence.
National Fraud Initiative - Data Matching
This authority is required by law to protect the public funds it administers. It may share information provided to it with other bodies responsible for auditing or administering public funds, in order to prevent and detect fraud.
On behalf of the Auditor General for Scotland, Audit Scotland appoints the auditor to audit the accounts of this authority. It is also responsible for carrying out data matching exercises.
Data matching involves comparing computer records held by one body against other computer records held by the same or another body to see how far they match. This is usually personal information. Computerised data matching allows potentially fraudulent claims and payments to be identified but the inclusion of personal data within a data matching exercise does not mean that any specific individual is under suspicion. Where a match is found it indicates that there may be an inconsistency that requires further investigation. No assumption can be made as to whether there is fraud, error or other explanation until an investigation is carried out. The exercise can also help bodies to ensure that their records are up to date.
Audit Scotland currently requires us to participate in a data matching exercise to assist in the prevention and detection of fraud. We are required to provide particular sets of data to Audit Scotland for matching for each exercise, and these are set out in Audit Scotland’s instructions, which can be found at:
The use of data by Audit Scotland in a data matching exercise is carried out with statutory authority, normally under its powers in Part 2A of the Public Finance and Accountability (Scotland) Act 2000. It does not require the consent of the individuals concerned under the Data Protection Act 1998.
Data matching by Audit Scotland is subject to a Code of Practice. This may also be found at: http://www.audit-scotland.gov.uk/work/nfi.php
For further information on Audit Scotland’s legal powers and the reasons why it matches particular information, see the full text privacy notice at:
http://www.audit-scotland.gov.uk/work/nfi.php or contact Andrew Hall, Revenue Services Manager 01595 744649