Benefit Fraud

Within this page you will find a range of information about benefit fraud. If, having read the details, you believe you would like to report a potential case of fraud, then please contact our Benefit Fraud Investigation Team (see below).

Some Facts About Benefit Fraud

Payment of Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit by local authorities amounts to around £14billion of government expenditure, with housing benefit being paid to around 3.8 million people. The Audit Commission report 'Housing Benefit - The National Perspective' estimates that one in seven households in the UK receive Housing Benefit.

Latest estimates suggest that nationally, around £720 million is being lost each year because of fraud in the benefit system. If these figures are an indication of the level of fraud then they suggest that about 16% of claimants are receiving an incorrect award of benefit.

Within the Western Isles there is a live caseload of approximately 5,000 residents claiming Housing benefit or Council Tax Benefit. To ensure that the council is providing a secure service, an experienced investigation team has been set up to both prevent and detect benefit fraud.

This team is working within the council’s policy, which aims to prosecute the worst offenders, and formally caution or offer administration penalties to other offenders. The overpayments will also be recovered from the claimants.

The vision of the Benefit Fraud Investigation Team is to “lead the council towards its ambition to be, and be seen to be, a top authority” in the prevention and investigation of benefit fraud.

The investigation team works within legislation such as:

  • Human Rights Act
  • Data Protection Act
  • Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act
  • Race Relations Act

The Department for Work and Pensions Benefit Fraud Inspectorate Good Practice Guide recommends that a local authority develops and delivers a comprehensive fraud awareness training programme to its staff, to both minimise the risks of fraud entering the system and to increase the likelihood of fraud being detected at the earliest opportunity. A code of practice is held for our officers involved with the investigation of claims.

We are also liasing within this framework with many other departments in the prevention and detection of fraud, including other government agencies, as well as other local authority departments. 

If you know of or suspect anyone of fraudulently claiming Housing or Council Tax Benefit you can contact us in the following ways:

Benefit Fraud Investigation Team
Comhairle Nan Eilean Siar
Sandwick Road
Isle of Lewis

Please note all referrals are dealt with in the strictest confidence