A council is taking action to reclaim nearly £300,000 that has been paid out to fraudulent benefit claimants.
A report produced by Hertsmere Borough Council’s Anti-Fraud Unit has revealed in the period from the beginning of the financial year until the end of November, the council overpaid £278,761.
So far this year, the council has investigated 137 cases and has identified 100 of them as overpayment.
In the period between September and the end of November, the council took eight people to court to reclaim the money and successfully prosecuted seven. It has also issued 19 cautions.
Of these, one man received 32 weeks in prison for four counts of failing to declare a change in circumstances, which resulted in him being overpaid £10,000 in housing and council tax benefits.
Another man was sentenced to 80 hours of community work for failing to declare four bank accounts and report changes in his earnings and employment, receiving £9,922 in benefits he was not entitled to.
In this time, the council identified £277,000 of overpayment in housing benefits. So far, the council has managed to recoup 82 of the claims, at a cost of £166,000.
The report will be put before the council’s Audit committee on Monday.