New initiative to crackdown on benefit cheats
Benefit fraudsters could find their payments cut as West Oxfordshire District Council implements the Government’s new ‘One Strike’ initiative.
Anyone caught committing benefit fraud could find their benefit payments reduced for a 4-week period and, in the severest cases, could face a prison sentence.
The new scheme aims to deter benefit claimants from withholding information about their personal circumstances in order to receive more benefit than they are entitled to.
In the last six months benefit fraud overpayments in West Oxfordshire have amounted to £143,000 and 32 residents have been sanctioned. They have either been cautioned or fined and some have been prosecuted. In all cases the money fraudulently obtained has to be repaid. The One Strike initiative now adds to the sanctions available to the Council.
Cllr Simon Hoare, Cabinet Member for Resources said, “Benefit payments are, rightly, targeted to those in genuine need. Claiming under false pretences is, in reality theft and morally unacceptable to honest taxpayers. Our benefit fraud team have been very successful in identifying and prosecuting offenders and we welcome this new deterrent as an important new tool to crackdown on benefit cheats.”
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