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Council Tax abuse costs Essex £10 million

24 August 2016

It is estimated that Councils across Essex are losing £10million or more through Council tax fraud or error.

This figure is being announced as local authorities across the county embark on a new partnership to attack the issue.

Essex County Council is supporting district, borough and city councils in a ground breaking approach to this major problem through a new pan-Essex campaign urging people to check they are paying the right amount, before new cutting edge data-checking software comes into force.

Cllr John Spence, Essex County Council Cabinet Member for Finance, said: “Council Tax is the tax that pays for the services we all take for granted. It’s the money that pays for our bins to be collected, our roads to be maintained, our schools to be built, and our elderly and young to be looked after, as well as of course policing and fire services.

“In the end, such losses mean higher council tax bills for the honest taxpayers. While this is fraud against the council it is your neighbour who will have to foot the additional bill, or suffer from inferior services.

“All households are required to pay it, and there are rightly a number of discounts and exemptions available depending on your circumstances. These are however open to abuse or error, and while this is a national issue in Essex it is estimated that £10million or more may be getting lost.

The biggest area of abuse is thought to be Single Person Discount, with recipients able to claim a twenty five per cent discount on their bill.

Now in a crackdown on fraudulent claims, councils across Essex have invested in developing a new software system allowing them to share data, highlighting potential errors and fraud.

Cllr Spence added: “We know that some people are claiming discounts they are not entitled to in error. If you’re in a new relationship and your partner moves in, contacting the Council is the last thing on your mind, but now is the time to come forward.

“At the moment our anti-fraud work is done very much on a district by district basis, but we are looking to be the UK leaders in how we approach this, and the new software coming in October will enable all Essex authorities to share data, providing cutting edge technology that will detect where there are possible errors or fraud.

“So if you have made an error tell us now, rather than waiting to be found out down the line.”

For more information, visit essexcounciltax.co.uk.