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One in six Londoners know someone committing council tax fraud

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One in six Londoners know someone who is dishonestly claiming a council tax discount.

Where there’s one adult living at an address, they can claim a 25% discount on council tax.

But research by fraud prevention service Cifas revealed that one in 10 people know someone who’s falsely claimed this discount over the last 12 months.

In London, the figure rises to almost one in six.

In the poll of 2,000 UK adults, Cifas found that 10% didn’t view falsely claiming a single person discount as illegal. For one in 13, they said it was a ‘reasonable’ thing to do.

Meanwhile in London, 15% viewed this as ‘reasonable’ while one in six said they didn’t view this as illegal.

According to the Institute for Government, local authorities’ spending power has fallen 16% between 2010 and 2020. The Covid pandemic has added a further £11.9bn financial burden to councils, reducing their ability to fund vital services. The annual loss from fraud to councils is estimated to be £2.1bn.

As such, Cifas is urging people who are aware of someone committing council tax fraud to “speak up” and report them.

Cifas’ director of public sector, Rachael Tiffen, said: “The economic impact of the pandemic has put significant strain on council budgets. The fraudulent abuse of schemes designed to help those in need unnecessarily restricts funding for many of the services residents rely upon daily.

“Rises in the cost of living may be forcing people to look for ways to save money on their household bills. However, defrauding councils, or any organisation, is never okay and shouldn’t be viewed as a way to cut outgoings.

“Fraud in both the public and private sector is a serious issue and poses a threat to national security. The public are rightly outraged by the widespread fraudulent abuse of Covid-19 loans and grants, however this research suggests more common abuses of public funds aren’t viewed with the same level of dismay.”

The research comes as households across England are urged to set up direct debits with their local council to receive a £150 council tax rebate to help cover the cost of soaring energy prices.

Around 20 million households in council tax bands A to D will receive a share of the £3 billion council tax rebate announced by the government earlier this month.

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