Rotherham: Warning against fraudulently claiming Council Tax discount

Rotherham Council is warning against people fraudulently claiming Single Person Council Tax discount.

Wednesday, 17th July 2013, 8:21 am
Guardian News

A 25 per cent Council Tax discount is given each year to more than 37,000 households across Rotherham, where there is only on adult resident at the property.

Last year the local authority urged those who were claiming but who no longer qualified for the Single Person Discount, to notify the authority and no further action would be taken.

As a result, 1,960 discounts were cancelled last year resulting in increased revenue to the authority of up to £563,000.

But the council believes that many more people have changed circumstances and now need to pay and so is repeating its warning that if discount cheats continue to claim they will be found out and investigated.

The Audit Commission has reported that more than £200 million of Single Person Discounts may be inappropriately awarded nationally - making a huge impact upon the already overstretched budgets of local authorities right across the country.

“These people are taking advantage of not only the system but also the genuine Council Tax payers,” said Coun Jahangir Akhtar, deputy leader of Rotherham Council, who is also responsible for the revenues and benefits service.

“When the Council Tax charge is set, the council has to take into account the reduction in the amount due because of people claiming discounts or exemptions. We value our residents and it is not fair that some people try to dodge paying.

“Obviously, some fraud will be unintentional as some people simply forget to tell the authority when their circumstances change. But it is a statutory requirement for council taxpayers to tell us within 28 days if they think they should no longer qualify for a discount. So, if you receive a discount you think you should not receive, this is your final chance to tell us, before we contact you.”

Stuart Booth, director of financial services for the authority, added: “As the Council Tax scheme is a form of tax, we are obliged to amend any records we find to be incorrect back to the date of the change.”

“This means that householders do not benefit from withholding information from us, and it makes the system fair for everyone. It could mean some households will find they have a considerable amount of council tax arrears to pay. “

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