£530k in illegally claimed benefits clawed back by North Lincolnshire Council fraud busters
Fraud-busters from North Lincolnshire Council clawed back a record amount of illegally claimed benefit last year, it has been revealed.
And the crackdown on benefit cheats shows no signs of easing up during 2012-13.
Figures released by the local authority show last year a total of £530,134 was recovered, made up of £382,469 in overpaid housing benefit and £147,665 in overpaid council tax.
But the claw-back figure soared to more than £939,000 when joint investigations with the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) were taken into account – because the joint operation identified more than £414,000 had been overpaid in other state benefits.
Councillor Neil Poole, the council's spokesman for policy and resources, confirmed that last year officers dealt with a record number of 256 cases, many of them as a result of tip-offs from the public.
Mr Poole said: "The extensive lengths we go to is clearly paying dividends as we've brought more successful prosecutions than the previous year. We use every means at our disposal to clamp down on benefit cheats.
"The fraudsters are cheating the system and leaving law-abiding taxpayers to pick up the bill, so contact us if you know someone who is committing benefit fraud in North Lincolnshire."
The investigations led to 29 successful prosecutions in the courts and 81 cautions or administrative penalties.
The 2011-12 cash figure was 7.5 per cent up on the previous year. Between April and August this year the investigators from the council and the DWP have so far uncovered fraud totalling £364,796, including £138,459 in overpaid housing benefit.
So far this year, 11 fraudsters have been successfully prosecuted and 30 formal cautions or penalties have been issued.
The results in North Lincolnshire come in the wake of a demand from Local Government Secretary Eric Pickles for councils to use new powers to tackle benefit fraud and waste.