Gloucestershire benefit fraud increases by a third

The amount of housing and council tax benefit fraudulently claimed in Gloucestershire has increased by a third over the past three years.

Some £766,000 was fraudulently claimed during 2008/2009, a BBC investigation has found.

By 2010/2011 the total was more than £1m.

The Cotswolds saw the most dramatic increase with the amount of money fraudulently claimed in the area almost doubling in three years.

'Varying income'

Cotswold District Council said it was using all methods available to investigate fraud.

The council spokesman added that the figure in the last financial year was higher than previously because some cases had taken place over several years.

Anne Whitworth, senior solicitor at the Gloucester Law Centre, said the system was so complex that errors could easily be made.

"If you've got a varying income, for example if you're working and earning overtime some weeks and not other weeks you have to report every change of income, it's very complicated.

"So quite often what might be looked at as fraud is actually just over payments due to not knowing what you're supposed to tell the council."

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