Did you know that knowingly failing to declare your true circumstances on a housing and council tax benefit claim form can be a criminal offence? Or that failing to promptly report a change in circumstances could lead to up to six months in prison? Or that cashing benefit cheques that you know you are not entitled to could result in a custodial sentence of up to 12 months?
It's quite simple. In order to work out how much help with rent and council tax you are entitled to, the council needs to know your correct circumstances. This means we need to know full details of your income, capital, savings, property and how much rent you have to pay. We also need to know details of everyone who lives in your household, and their income.
If you deliberately fail to disclose any of the above information, you may be paid too much benefit. If the council finds out about it further down the line, you will have to repay the money. And you will probably be interviewed on tape and under caution to explain why you didn't tell us about it. And you might even have to pay an extra 50% on top of that, subject to a minimum of £350.00 and a maximum of £2,000.00 (this is called an administrative penalty). You might be issued with a formal caution. You could end up in front of a magistrate explaining why you didn't tell the benefits section everything they needed to know.
The council is committed to detecting and preventing abuse of the housing benefits system. We conduct reviews of benefit claims to ensure the right amount of benefit is being paid, and investigate allegations of benefit fraud. All our investigations are carried out fairly, with integrity and in a professional manner, by fully trained and accredited staff. They make full use of all the current legislation designed to help detect benefits fraud as well as working closely with their counterparts in the Department for Work and Pensions on cases involving other benefits.
Chesterfield Borough Council imposes sanctions on or prosecutes people who have committed criminal offences against the authority. The following chart shows our performance over the last five years.
Prosecutions (includes joint
prosecutions with DWP)
If you would like to report anyone you believe is committing benefit fraud, you can:
We look at every report we receive, and the more information you provide the better.
Buster Cheat says, "Don't Let This Happen To You!"
Making a claim for housing and council tax benefit is as important as making a mortgage application, or an insurance claim. When making a claim for council benefits, or completing a claim review, make sure you read the form thoroughly, and answer every question. If you're not sure whether you should mention something on the form, put it down anyway. The staff at the Revenues Hall will work out if it affects your benefit entitlement. You can contact the benefits section at the Revenues Hall for more information. They are happy to go through the form with you, and offer advice.
If you are already claiming, and your circumstances change, let the benefits section know as soon as possible. Again, if you're not sure that the change will affect your benefit, tell us anyway. After all, it's better to be safe than sorry!
If you would like to inform The Housing and Council Tax Benefit Section of any change in circumstances, you can contact them on 01246 345484/345507.