Benefit investigations

Tackling fraud

The London Borough of Sutton is committed to tackling benefit fraud. Most people who receive benefit are honest and entitled to the financial help they receive, however, a small minority take advantage of the benefit system. We aim to stop as much benefit fraud as we can.

Our investigators work hard to keep these losses at a minimum and try to apply a suitable punishment of those responsible. We aim to stop as much benefit fraud as we can by

  • Prevention - strict benefit controls exist when new claims are made for Housing Benefit and/or Council Tax Reduction. For example, customers must produce extensive evidence about their identity, how much they have in savings, what their income is and who lives in the household before their Housing Benefit and/or Council Tax Reduction is assessed.
  • Checking - carrying out reviews, including visits, to check entitlement during the course of a claim ensures accurate entitlement to benefit.
  • Detection - Our professionally trained investigators use a range of far-reaching powers including checking customer employment details, investments, savings, bank accounts and utility bills and in more serious cases undertaking surveillance of suspected fraudsters. This helps them uncover and investigate allegations of benefit fraud received from members of the public, staff, elected members, other government departments and from the results of national and local data matching.

The law requires The London Borough of Sutton to protect the public funds it administers. We may share information held with other bodies responsible for auditing or administering public funds, in order to prevent and detect fraud and errors.

Data matching involves comparing computer records held by one body against other computer records held by the same or another body. This is usually personal information. Computerised data matching allows potentially fraudulent claims, payments and errors to be identified. An identified match may indicate 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 Department for Work and Pensions and the Cabinet Office are responsible for carrying out data matching exercises and we are required to participate. We are required to provide particular sets of data for matching and these are set out in the here.

The London Borough of Sutton's investigation team also work closely with external partners in the Department for Work and Pensions and Metropolitan Police on many of our investigations. A range of actions are available when fraud has been proven, including prosecution, formal cautions and financial penalties, which are known as administrative penalties.

If you have reason to suspect that someone is fraudulently claiming council tax reduction we would like to hear from you. Find out more about reporting fraud.

 

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