In the midst of the laying off of public sector employees and other tough cuts on government spending, it has been revealed that councils were victimized by more than 120,000 cases of fraud last year. The cost, ultimately to the taxpayer, was around £135 million. Almost 75 per cent of the frauds involved tax dodging, which ran to a total of around £100 million.
Another £90 million came from fraud associated with the single person tax discount. There was extensive fraud involving the use of handicapped parking badges and claims for student tax discounts using false colleges with addresses of pubs and restaurants.
The Birmingham Council has discovered almost £6 million of overpaid benefits. Taxpayers are less than thrilled and are insisting that councils do more to bear down on such fraud at the public expense.
The councils really need to get in the game by whatever means possible and stop this. It is a bleeding of public funds at a time when no one can afford to lose a single drop, much less a geyser like this, one involved party commented.
At the least, it is another indicator of how incompetent government has been fiscally speaking, at a time when the government, local and national, must do all it can to keep the books in order.