180 households stripped of single-person discount after Borders council probe

Scottish Borders Council's headquarters in Newtown.
Scottish Borders Council's headquarters in Newtown.

Almost 200 Borders households claiming the 25% council tax discount for people living on their own have had it taken off them in the past year.

Some 181 single-occupancy claimants now have to pay up a third more following a purge by Scottish Borders Council’s counter-fraud and compliance officer Gary Smith.

In his annual report to this week’s meeting of the council’s audit and risk committee, Mr Smith said £86,000 in single-person discounts had been wrongly claimed in the Borders in this financial year.

Mr Smith described how a joint exercise with council customer services and electoral registration staff had identified around 800 households claiming single-person discount as meriting further investigation, and almost a quarter of those, he said, are now getting undiscounted bills.

“It seemed from details on the electoral register that discount was not appropriate,” explained Mr Smith to councillors.

“These claimants were canvassed and asked to confirm the occupiers of their property, and their responses were investigated to verify the information supplied.

“Of these, 68 confirmed there had been a change in circumstances about which they had not previously informed the council.

“There were 20 claimants who were found to have responded fraudulently, and a further 93 failed to respond.

“All these customers received an adjusted council tax bill with no single-person discount applied.”