Investigations into council tax and benefit fraud in Herefordshire jumped nearly fivefold last year. But whether this is due to more crime or just better reporting is unclear.

A new report by the Herefordshire Council’s counter fraud manager Jonathan Nelson says 75 new cases of council tax and benefit fraud were referred to his department in 2023, compared to just 16 the year before.

The increase “can be attributed to the increased visibility and awareness of the CFS (the council's Counter Fraud Service) amongst local residents”, his report suggests.


But it “could also be a result of the inherent risk of fraud within this particular service and due to the cost of living crises having an effect on the motivation of households to commit fraud”.

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There was also a rise in Blue Badge fraud in the county, where drivers abuse the regulated entitlement to priority parking spaces, from 64 new cases in 2022 to 76 in 2023.

Most related to expired badges, or the driver not being the one named on the badge.

Mr Nelson’s report estimates his department recovered £445,000 for the county last year, while preventing a further £356,000 in fraud.