Edinburgh based data management specialist, Data Discoveries has strongly backed the Government’s latest proposal to crack down on benefit cheats.
The firm has seen the extent of the problem at first hand as they have been working with local authorities to combat benefit fraud for people falsely claiming single person discount on council tax.
People falsely claiming single person discount alone costs genuine council tax payers an extra £5 on to their bill each year and can cost local authorities up to £100 million a year.
David Aitken, Technical Director of Data Discoveries said: “We wholeheartedly support the Government’s plans to more stringently verify claims and offer a range of options that appeal to those who seek alternatives, or additional insight outwith recent credit check proposals. Benefit fraud is a massive problem for local authorities throughout the UK. With an estimated 300,000 people falsely claiming Single Person Discount alone, it’s time the Government tackle this issue head on.
“We recently worked with one middle-sized local authority to look into this problem. From the 36,000 records the council gave us of people claiming single person discount, we identified 6,000 suspect cases. Of these cases, 80% of the people corrected their discount applications on the first written request for an update in their circumstances. This produced a staggering £500,000 in discount application reversals.
“Benefit fraud is theft and it’s the genuine council tax payers that have to foot the bill. Information we use is publicly available or has been collected with the consent of individuals, for wider use. By carrying out such checks, Councils are simply ensuring that only those entitled to benefits, get them.”
David Aitken continued: “It’s imperative that the Government sends a clear message that they are taking these preventation measures to protect the public purse.”