Housing cheats cost Chester £256k in one year


Staff reporter (Chester First)

HOUSING benefit cheats in Chester cost taxpayers more than £250,000 in just one year.

Figures obtained by the Leader reveal fraudulent housing benefit claims by people in the Chester area totalled almost £257,000 for the 12 months to November.

The figures relate to the CH1, CH2, CH3 and CH4 postcodes.

They were abtained via a Freedom of Information request to Cheshire West and Chester Council and show the cost of fraudsters to CWaC for the period between November 2012 and November 2013.

A breakdown revealed £131,589 of housing benefit fraud occurred in the CH1 area, which includes Blacon, Chester, Capenhurst and Backford – more than double that of other postcode areas.

The figures also showed housing benefit fraud in the Elton, Hoole, Ince and Mickle Trafford areas, to be £56,484, while Boughton, Huntington, Tarvin, Tattenhall and Waverton areas topped £60,000 for the period.

The area with the least fraudulent housing benefit claims, Curzon Park, Handbridge and Lache, saw £8,500 of false claims for the past year.

Cllr Les Ford, executive member for resources, said: “The vast majority of benefit claimants are honest but this council remains committed to ensuring that those who misuse the system, and illegally claim benefits they are not entitled to, are caught.

“The council wants everyone who is entitled to benefits to receive them, but stealing valuable public funds through fraud costs taxpayers millions of pounds every year and results in less money available for public services, and more taxes that the general public have to pay.

“This sort of offence is theft and will not be tolerated in West Cheshire. The Council will always pursue those claiming illegally at the expense of the borough’s law-abiding tax payers.

“In addition to prosecution we also use all of the legal powers available to us to seek full repayment of any amounts fraudulently claimed.”

To report suspicions call 0300 123 7030 or visit the council website, www.cheshirewestandchester.gov.uk.

See full story in the Chester Leader

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