New checks to root out council tax dodgers

Central Bedfordshire Council - Chicksands Office

Central Bedfordshire Council - Chicksands Office

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People who fruadulently claim a single person discount on their council tax are being targetted this week by Central Bedfordshire Council.

Officers are carrying out checks on almost 35,000 Central Bedfordshire residents claiming the discount to ensure entitled to receive it.

The 25 per cent discount, worth a minimum of £250 a year, is given to anyone who claims to be living in a property on their own – currently 34,700 people in the area.

While most claims are genuine, the process will use data-matching technology to check information held by the council is accurate and up-to-date.

A spokeswoman said: “We will be contacting all those we believe to be claiming incorrectly, but in the meantime, we would urge anyone who is claiming the discount and whose circumstances have changed to contact us immediately by telephoning 0300 300 8301.

“The longer you leave it, the larger your backdated bill will be if you’ve been over claiming a discount , so it makes sense to tell us as soon as possible.

“Even if you were living alone when you received your bill for the year, if another adult is living with you now, we will need to re-calculate the amount you need to pay.”

She added: “People who are genuinely claiming the discount have nothing to worry about, but anyone found to be deliberately misleading us could face prosecution.”

The review will use a two stage process to validate legitimate single person discount claims and identify and remove those being claimed in error or fraudulently.

The council has brought in technology specialists CapacityGRID to help establish whether people are genuinely living alone, by cross-referencing with other sources of household information such as, but not limited to, the electoral-roll registers and financial sector information.

Anyone whose claim for single person discount is under question following the data checking exercise will be contacted by letter and or telephone. Anyone failing to respond to requests for further information in relation to their claim will have the claim withdrawn from the beginning of the current financial year or from the date the discount was applied if within the current financial year.

If, during the review process, checks indicate that another adult is living at the address, the discount will be withdrawn.