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7 March 2013, 11:43
Broadland District Council says its saved £120,000 by investigating households which claim there is one person living there.
Broadland District Council has been working with a high tech data company to review claims for council tax discounts.
Of the 55,000 properties on the books of Broadland, more than 16,000 are allowed 25% off their bills as single resident households.
The traditional way of reviewing discounts is by writing to everyone currently claiming. The problem with this is that it is easy for a person just to write back and confirm entitlement.
So far, over 450 discounts have been cancelled saving the public purse an estimated £120,000 per year.
The Broadland project which has been jointly funded by Norfolk County Council and Norfolk Police Authority, has been so successful because it has utilised information from the credit industry by working with a specialist data company. This has helped the council to target resources against those households which show up as being high risk cases rather than a broad brush approach at all of those claiming - whether they are genuine or not.
It has meant backdated bills going back years have been sent out and interestingly is also showing up possible benefit fraud cases. The Audit Commission publishes an annual Protecting the Public Purse report. From their research, they found that between 4 and 6 percent of single resident discount claims could be cancelled because of fraud.
Councillor Paul Carrick, Portfolio Holder for Finance said: "At Broadland we are determined that those who try to cheat the system are identified and have their discounts removed. They place an unfair burden on the vast majority of honest and genuine residents.
"Broadland has led the way over the last five years in identifying council tax single discount fraud, having worked with two data companies in the past which led to the cancellation of hundreds of discounts. However the current project has proved to be by far the most successful.
"We want all those residents who are genuinely claiming a discount to continue to receive what they are entitled to but we will be looking to carry out more of these projects in future to identify those who are cheating the system."