Fraudbusters in Kirklees have detected fraudulent claims topping £2m in just one year.
Kirklees Council officers have uncovered more than 1,200 people claiming to live alone and getting a 25% council tax discount – when they were living with someone else and should have paid the full amount.
They’ve also uncovered blue badge abuse, housing benefit and council tax reduction abuse.
Plus investigations found fraudulent claims in the Right to Buy scheme that allows some people to buy their council house at a massive discount.
Had bids to buy houses proceeded, Kirklees would have lost housing stock and lost out to the tune of £127,750.
Because the potential fraud was uncovered some 29 will stay in the housing stock.
Clr Graham Turner, Cabinet member for resources, said: “It is right to clamp down on fraud. It is not a harmless and victimless crime that people believe it is.
“If that fraud is wrongly taking houses out of the housing stock then that affects everyone in Kirklees on the waiting list.
“A big part of tackling fraud is the public, they are the eyes and ears of the community and if people are aware of fraud then help us deal with it.”
He added: “I think we’re on the right lines in investigating fraud. We can’t spend much more because there’s a limit to what we can get back from it, and with ever-diminishing council budgets we have to consider everything we spend, but I think our officers have got it right and we are committed to trying to tackle this issue.”
Figures show that 1,227 people were fraudulently claiming single person council tax discount in 2013/14 – which potentially cost the council £479,685.
Kirklees has now cancelled the discounts and full council tax will be billed for these properties.
Fines topping £94,780 have been issued to the households and £38,450 has already been paid.
There were also 63 sanctions – formal cautions – for the fraudulent misuse of blue badges, which permits disabled parking, in 2013/14.
It is estimated by the Department for Transport that it costs local authorities £500 on average in lost car park revenues per badge per year.
Kirklees also identified £440,000 in housing benefit overpayments and council tax reductions.
Of the latter, a council spokeswoman said: “We recover roughly 50% of this which equates to £220,000.33, but we seek to recover all fraud related overpayments.”
Over the last 18 months Kirklees has also obtained 11 confiscation orders under the Proceeds of Crime totalling £888,163.11p.
The spokeswoman added: “The council is closely monitoring the progress of the Serious Crime Bill which is currently progressing through the House of Lords. If passed it will give more of the proceeds of crime back to the local regions as opposed to the majority going to Central Government.”