Local authorities in the UK have detected 22% more cases of council tax fraud compared to last year, research by CIPFA has found.
This category now accounts for more than three quarters (78%) of all local government fraud.
The 2019 CIPFA Fraud and Corruption Tracker (CFaCT) revealed that UK local authorities identified and/or prevented 71,000 cases of council tax fraud in 2018/19, up from 57,894 cases in 2017/18.
Valued at £30.6m, this included 44,051 cases of Single Person Discount (SPD) fraud and 8,973 cases of Council Tax Reduction (CTR) fraud.
However, this year’s report also showed that the estimated loss to councils from business rate fraud decreased to £8m from £10m the previous year. Overall, business rate fraud represented only 2% of the total number of fraud cases detected or prevented in 2018/19.
Rob Whiteman, Chief Executive, CIPFA: “Fraud continues to be a critical issue for local authorities. Many councils have worked diligently to implement new counter-fraud strategies, and the figures tell us those efforts are working.
“The unlawful diversion of funds away from local authorities only adds further stress on vastly underfunded public services. The sector is moving in the right direction, but only a greater focus on collaboration and preventative measures will help to create long-lasting change.
“CIPFA recognises the significant effort and resource that local authorities have applied in the fight against public sector fraud, which have contributed to councils finding and preventing more instances of fraudulent activity.”