Bassetlaw District Council has turned to the small screen for a campaign to raise greater awareness of benefit fraud.
The council has put together a series of short films which tell the story of a number of ‘real-life’ situations where residents who receive benefits have been unwittingly committing fraud, and have been caught out.
The message, which is ‘Don’t commit benefit fraud. It’s not worth it’, runs throughout all five films that highlight these situations across a range of age groups and circumstances.
These include pensioners who may be receiving Housing Benefit, single people who may be claiming Council Tax Reduction and Housing Benefit and who move in with a partner, people claiming Housing Benefit who change jobs and landlords who create fake tenancies.
Almost £2 million of historical overpayments are currently being recovered from claimants who had been overpaid in Housing Benefit and Council Tax reduction because they had failed to inform the council of any changes that might affect their benefits.
It is hoped that the films will prompt residents to contact the Benefits Team and let them know about any changes in circumstance that may affect their benefits before the overpayments become too large, or it can be proven that fraud is taking place.
Councillor Kevin Dukes, cabinet member for Co-operatives and Corporate Services at Bassetlaw District Council, said: “We are here to support people if they are receiving certain benefits and their circumstances change.
“This may prompt a change in their payments and our message is; ‘don’t bury your head in the sand, help is available’.
“It’s not worth committing benefit fraud and by ignoring the problem, things may only get worse.
“While help is available for those people who unwittingly commit fraud and come forward, there will still be harsh penalties for those people who knowingly and deliberately commit benefit fraud. We work with other agencies to share information and if you are committing benefit fraud, you will be caught.”