People claiming single person’s discount on their Council Tax are being warned to tell the council if someone moves in – or they could end up in court.
The discount entitles people to 25 per cent off their Council Tax but failure to declare another person living with them could cost them time, money and lead to a criminal conviction.
The warning follows a prosecution by the Council’s Corporate Fraud Team of a woman who claimed the discount, despite having someone living with her for nearly 13 years.
The woman from North Prospect, pleaded guilty to two offences contrary to the Fraud Act 2006 and one offence contrary to the Theft Act 1978 evasion of liability.
She was given a 12 month community order and told to pay £450 prosecution costs as well as a victim surcharge of £85 (making a total financial penalty of £535).
Magistrates heard that between 9 January 2004 and 14 January 2007 the 50-year-old dishonestly secured an abatement to her Council Tax liability by withholding information that her partner had moved in and was living with her.
Between 15 January 2007 and 28 November 2016, she again failed to disclose information that her partner was living with her and was no longer entitled to a single person’s discount.
She also pleaded guilty to filling in a discount review form in November 2014 and falsely and dishonestly declaring that she was the only person over 18 years of age living at her property in order to get a reduction in her Council Tax liability.
The value of discount she obtained over the period of time was just under £3,000, but the court was told that since being charged with the offences, she had paid back most of the money, with only £660 still left to pay.
Councillor Ian Darcy, Cabinet Member for Finance said: “We hope this sends a timely message out to anyone who is claiming something that they are not entitled. Do the right thing and tell us if someone is living with you.
“No one likes paying tax – but Council Tax pays for our roads and helps pay for the day to day running of this city as well as looking after those who can’t look after themselves.
“Fraudulent activity diverts money and resources from those who need the services. It also contributes to higher Council Tax bills for every other council tax payer.”