There are several types of fraud and economic crime that affect council services.
Housing benefit fraud
About 15,500 people in Thurrock get housing benefit or council tax support. Most of these claims are legal but a high number will be false.
The most common types of housing benefit fraud include:
- not telling us about a change in circumstances that affects the right to receive benefit
- not telling us about true circumstances
- giving us false or forged documents to support a claim
Housing tenancy fraud
We provide over 10,000 social housing properties, with many more being provided by other organisations in Thurrock, such as housing associations.
The most common types of housing tenancy fraud include:
- subletting – when a tenant leaves their property and allows another person to move in, often paying rent to the original tenant far above what the we would charge
- abandonment – when a tenant leaves their property without telling us, for example when a person moves in with a new partner but keeps their council home as a safety net or simply for a place to store their belongings
- wrongful tenancy succession – when someone lies about living in a property for the qualifying period in order to gain the tenancy of a deceased tenant
- key selling – when a tenant sells their tenancy to another person for a one off payment or reward
- giving false information in a housing application – for example, not declaring you own or rent a property elsewhere, or by lying about the number of people moving in with you to gain a larger property
- right to buy – where concerns are raised over the validity of a right to buy application
Council tax fraud
Council tax fraud is when a person deliberately gives false or misleading information in order to pay less or no council tax.
The most common types of council tax fraud include when a person:
- doesn't tell us about true circumstances that affect their claim for council tax reduction
- claims to live in a single-person household when more than one person lives there
- claims to be a student when they are not
Business rates fraud
Business rates – also called non-domestic rates – fraud is when a business avoids paying the charge they owe for local services.
The most common types of business rates fraud include:
- not declaring the location of a business
- declaring that a property is no longer in use when it is
- dishonestly claiming an exemption from paying business rates
Blue Badge fraud for disabled parking
Blue Badge fraud is where a person:
- uses a stolen or fake disabled parking badge
- uses a disabled parking badge when the badge holder is not in the vehicle
These types of fraud prevent the Blue Badge scheme from being used by those who need it most.
Social care fraud
This type of fraud is when a person who receives social care services:
- is dishonest about their financial status
- misuses direct payments provided to pay their care
The most common types of social care fraud include:
- keeping money that has been claimed from us to pay for a carer
- submitting false evidence that a direct payment is being used on care
- being dishonest about financial circumstances when asking for social care support
- not telling us when a service user has died, and keeping their personal budgets
- a person abusing their position of care to take money from a vulnerable person
Insurance fraud is where a person is dishonest about a claim made against us. The most common types of insurance fraud include:
- being dishonest about an injury or damage in order to receive compensation
- exaggerating damage or injury in a claim for compensation
- dishonestly making multiple insurance claims against multiple councils
Council employee and contractor fraud, bribery or corruption
Criminal misconduct by a council employee or a contractor is the most serious breach of trust.
Corruption and fraud by an employee or contractor could be where:
- an employee or contractor has abused their position to get a job with the council, or to obtain a council house, for a family member or friend
- a contractor provides cash or gifts of services in kind to a councillor or employee in return for the award of a contract
- false claims are made for overtime, travel and other payments
- a council purchase card is misused
Money laundering is where 'criminal property' – what a person has gained from criminal conduct – is made to look as though it has been obtained by legal means.
Money laundering could be taking place if a person:
- overpays a bill from the council and asks for a refund of the credit balance
- uses a stolen credit or debit card to pay for council services
Any report of fraud or economic crime against us will be taken extremely seriously.