NEARLY 300 households claiming single-person discounts on their council tax in Mid Devon – equivalent to £150,000 – have had them removed as part of a fraud review.

A total of 293 households were wrongly claiming that only one eligible council taxpayer lived at their property, according to a report by the district council’s internal audit firm.

If just one adult lives in a property as their main home, they receive a 25 per cent council tax discount.

Various criteria mean that more than one person who is over 18 could live at the property but it could still be eligible for the reduction, such as if the second person is in full-time education studying A levels or higher.

However, residents must notify the council within 21 days if their circumstances change making them no longer eligible for the discount.

Ken Johnson from Devon Audit Partnership, Mid Devon’s internal auditor, said the authority is the first in Devon to complete its single-person discount review, as well review small business rates relief.

“The single-person discount review led to £150,000 worth of additional council tax being identified,” he said.

A study by the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy in 2019 showed that on a national basis roughly four in five (79 cases of fraud against councils) was linked to council tax fraud.

Paul Deal, Mid Devon’s corporate manager for finance, said the council receives roughly 10 per cent of a council tax bill, meaning the extra £150,000 recouped in council tax would be about £15,000 for the authority.

Council tax is collected by district councils, such as Mid Devon, but then shared between other local authorities and organisations, such as the police and county council.

Bradley Gerrard