Crackdown on council tax fraud

COUNCILS across the county are joining forces to review how many people may be wrongly claiming a discount on their council tax.

This, says Rother Council, will help keep council tax as low as possible for all payers.

The partnership review – the first of its kind in East Sussex - will examine who is claiming the Single Person Discount (SPD), which entitles claimants to a 25% reduction in their council tax, and alert those who are not entitled to it.

Similar reviews carried out elsewhere in the UK have generated a 5% reduction in the number of ineligible SPD claims. In East Sussex, this could lead to an additional £1.6m in council tax payments.

The partnership is made up of East Sussex County Council, Lewes District Council, Wealden District Council, Rother District Council, Hastings Borough Council and Eastbourne Borough Council.

Before the review starts, a two-week amnesty will be held from October 14 - 28 to give people the chance to come forward without fear of penalty to declare they no longer live alone and have been wrongly claiming the Single Person Discount.

In a joint statement, the council partnership said: “This review is aimed at protecting the public purse by tackling an area of council tax payments that is vulnerable to fraudulent claims. These claims cost councils thousands of pounds a year and ultimately affect the services we can provide for our residents.

“The vast majority of SPD claimants are fully entitled to the 25% discount, however, there are some who are not.

“The amnesty will give those people the chance to come forward without sanction and we would encourage anyone who may be wrongly claiming to declare themselves straightaway to avoid a potential fine.”

All councils taking part in the review will work with credit reference agencies. To ensure council tax records are current and accurate, and to guard against fraud, councils will match data against external databases, including credit reference agency data.

Anyone who thinks they may no longer be entitled to a Council Tax discount, or would like more details about the SPD amnesty, should contact the Council’s revenues department at 01424 787730