Council tax fraud represents 78% of local government fraud


New research released today by CIPFA shows that local authorities have detected 22% more cases of council tax fraud compared to last year.

The 2019 CIPFA Fraud and Corruption Tracker (CFaCT) reveals that UK local authorities identified and/or prevented 55,855 cases of council tax fraud in 2018/19, down 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.

Read the full report here: CFaCT Survey 2019. 

Notes to editors:

This year’s results are based on responses from 142 local authorities. An estimated total volume and value of fraud has been calculated for all local authorities in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. Missing values are calculated according to the size of the authority and for each type of fraud an appropriate universal measure of size has been selected, such as local authority housing stock for housing frauds. 

Council tax is the tax levied on domestic properties and collected by district and unitary authorities in England and Wales and levying authorities in Scotland. 

Council tax fraud is split into three sections:

  • Council tax single person discount (SPD) – where the council tax payer claims for occupiers who don’t exist.
  • Council tax reduction (CTR) support – where the council tax payer claims against incorrectly household income. 
  • Other types of council tax fraud – eg claims for exemptions or discounts to which the council tax payer has no entitlement.

About CIPFA 

CIPFA, the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy, is the professional body for people in public finance. CIPFA shows the way in public finance globally, standing up for sound public financial management and good governance around the world as the leading commentator on managing and accounting for public money.

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