Business rates constitute a significant portion of local authority funding. Proposed changes to the retention of business rates by local authorities mean that the amount of business rates collected has an ever increasing impact on council budgets. Currently local authorities retain 50% of rates collected however there are proposed plans to increase this to 75% rates retention in 2020 with several authorities are piloting a full 100% rates retention scheme.
As well as collecting business rates it is also vital that local authorities have adequate safeguards in place to ensure that all exemptions and reliefs are awarded correctly as fraudulent claims deprive the authority of much needed funds. Nationally, business rates fraud is on the rise and is the largest developing area with an estimated value of £10.4 million for 2017/18 compared to £7 million in 2016/17.
Some examples of business rates fraud include:
- Making false claims for Small Business Rate Relief or other exemptions or reliefs.
- Failing to report changes e.g. increases in RV, when a business closes or taking on other business properties.
- Claiming a council tax discount/exemption on a property being used for business purposes e.g. holiday homes, shops etc.
- Contrived tenancies/leases to obtain an exemption or relief.
- Refund scams involving stolen credit/debit cards.
 CIPFA Fraud and Corruption Tracker Summary Report 2018, page 10.
Council Tax collection is a key component of income to local authorities that pays for frontline services and supports those in need. Residents may be eligible for discounts or exemptions on their liability, for example if they are the sole adult resident or are in full time education. Fraud can occur when those not entitled to a reduction deliberately misapply for a discount or exemption.
With public funding being stretched, it is as important as ever to identify and combat fraud to prevent losses. Veritau – the council owned company that investigates fraud against the public sector – will be highlighting some of the frauds affecting our communities during International Fraud Awareness Week (11th – 17th November 2018).
30 October 2018
Malton woman prosecuted for council tax fraud
A female living in Malton has been successfully prosecuted by Ryedale District Council. The woman had claimed Council Tax Reduction since 2013, based on her family’s low income. However, she failed to notify Ryedale District Council that she was working as a self employed cleaner in 2015 and again in 2016. She also failed to declare that her husband had started self employment early in 2014.
23 October 2018
Couple Sentenced for Blue Badge Fraud in York
An investigation carried out by Veritau on behalf of the City of York Council resulted in a prosecution for Disabled Blue Badge fraud.
On 23 October, York Magistrates sentenced a couple from Malton to a 12-month conditional discharge each and ordered each to pay £200 in costs and £20 in surcharges.
The defendant, from Malton, was found using a family member’s Blue Badge in York city centre in April 2018. He later provided false information to the council on the matter. His wife was also found to have provided false information to the council regarding her husband’s actions.
13 August 2018
Son gets 15 months prison for stealing £16,200 from his elderly parents
An investigation has uncovered and led to the prosecution of a £16,200 theft by a son from his elderly parents.
Carried out by Veritau on behalf of the City of York Council and North Yorkshire Police, the investigation found that the son of a York couple in their 90s, had stolen money from them in 2013.
30 July 2018
Single Person Discount Data Match Prosecution
Richmondshire District Council’s fraud team has uncovered and successfully prosecuted a serious case of fraud which deprived the public purse of over £2,000.
This was the first case of its kind to be discovered through a data matching exercise conducted by the council’s fraud provider, Veritau Ltd. The exercise compared records from multiple sources and revealed that a second individual was linked to a property which had been declared as being occupied by a sole adult.
17 July 2018
Prosecution for blue badge misuse
An investigation carried out by City of York Council has uncovered and successfully prosecuted a case of Blue Badge fraud in the city.
A man was caught misusing his son’s blue badge on Tower Street in December 2017. An investigation into the misuse was conducted by Veritau, the council’s fraud investigation service, following information received from a Civil Enforcement Officer.
The defendant parked opposite Castle Car Park in a bay reserved for disabled people. Under national regulations, a blue badge can only be used when the badge holder is present or being picked up or dropped off close to where the car is parked displaying the badge. This is to allow people with disabilities to have improved access in the city centre and other areas where they require it.
3 July 2018
Man prosecuted for falsely applying for financial support
Fraudulent use of the York Financial Assistance Scheme, designed to help those in financial difficulty, has been uncovered and successfully prosecuted.
Sentencing includes a 12 month community order with 10 days rehabilition activity requirement and compensation of £375.
A male (aged 49) of Jackson Street, York applied for and obtained a cooker and a fridge freezer from York’s Financial Assistance Scheme stating that he was in need of the items and had no funds to purchase these items himself.
Veritau Shortlisted for IRRV Awards 2018
We are extremely pleased to annouce that Veritau's Fraud Team have been nominated for an award from the Institute of Revenues Rating and Valuation for the third year in a row. Veritau have been nominated for two awards: Excellence in Counter Fraud, and Excellence in Innovation. The Fraud Team are excited to attend the IRRV Awards on 10th October.
20 June 2018
Scheme for vulnerable residents defrauded
A resident who bought a cooker through a hardship fund and then sold it for profit was prosecuted yesterday (20 June) for defrauding the charitable scheme.
The male (aged 36, York) bought a cooker through the York Financial Assistance Scheme.
Veritau, the council’s fraud investigation service, carried out an investigation into his claim following information that he was selling the item online, still in its packaging and that his claim was fraudulent.
25 May 2018
Woman prosecuted for theft from mother with dementia
A woman who stole over £20k from her elderly and vulnerable mother has received a suspended sentence and 100 hours community service.
She was interviewed under caution by North Yorkshire Police and admitted to having taken just over £20,000 from her mother who has dementia and lives in a care home.
The woman in question had legal responsibility for her mother’s finances, however she took advantage of this position and took money from her mother for her own use as well as giving some to other family members.
25 May 2018
Landlord prosecuted for Council Tax fraud
A council tax fraud totaling over £2,800 across three properties and over six years has been successfully prosecuted. Sentencing includes a fine of £1,052, 200 hours of unpaid work and 20 days of rehabilitation activity.
This week at York Magistrates Court (22 May 2018) a 51 year old man of Stillington Road, Brandsby pleaded guilty to five counts of fraud. He had claimed single person discounts at three rental properties that he owned in York, and which variously ran between 2010-2016.
12 March 2018
Richmondshire District Council tackles case of benefit fraud
An investigation carried out by the Richmondshire District Council has uncovered and successfully prosecuted a serious case of fraud in the town, which deprived the public purse of just over £3,500.
A woman of Honeypot Road, Brompton-On-Swale, claimed Council Tax Reduction for a number of years. An investigation into her claim was conducted by Veritau, the council’s fraud investigation service, following information that her and her husband held capital that was not disclosed and that her claim was fraudulent.
19 February 2018
Tenancy fraud awareness week has come around again.
If someone. . . .
- Sublets or abandons a council or housing association property
- Provides false information when applying for housing
- Tries to purchase through Right To Buy when they are not entitled
- Lies to gain succession on a property
- Accepts payments to exchange properties
Please click the links below for more information.
|Tenancy Fraud Awareness Week||Tenancy Fraud Poster|