Responding to calls from the Department for Communities and Local Government for councils to tackle council tax benefit fraud, an LGA spokesman said:
"The £500 million the Government is cutting from council tax benefit funding each year cannot be made up through efficiency savings and fraud prevention. This looks like an attempt to wish away a cut that will have a significant negative impact on tens of thousands of people up and down the country, including the working poor.
"Councils are by far the best performing part of the public sector when it comes to collecting tax and tackling fraud. The rate of fraud against Jobseekers' Allowance is more than double that against council tax benefit and the cost to the public is much, much greater. Central government lost nearly £10 billion last year through fraud, error and uncollected tax. If that was dealt with there'd be no need to reduce council tax benefit funding at all.
"The Government has also massively overstated the size of council tax benefit fraud and error figures, excluding underpayments and ignoring the amount of money already recovered for the taxpayer. Instead of putting up straw men the Government should provide councils with discretion over all forms of council tax breaks. That way decisions on who pays less council tax can be made in accordance with local priorities."
Author: LGA Media Office
Contact: Dale Atkinson, Local Government Association Media Office, Telephone: 020 7664 3333
29 August 2012