‘Name and shame council debtors’

Community leaders have said all those who owe Blackpool Council money should be publicly outed in order to claw back some of the hundreds of thousands of pounds taken from taxpayers.

Community leaders have said all those who owe Blackpool Council money should be publicly outed in order to claw back some of the hundreds of thousands of pounds taken from taxpayers.

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Calls have been made to name and shame more debtors to the public purse in a bid to recoup fraudulently claimed funds.

Community leaders have said all those who owe Blackpool Council money should be publicly outed in order to claw back some of the hundreds of thousands of pounds taken from taxpayers.

It follows figures released in July that showed £1.8m of benefits was found to be being claimed fraudulently from Blackpool Council.

Council bosses outed some of those who had done so, including a grandfather who worked three different jobs while claiming to be disabled and a DJ who made false claims over a four-year period.

But renewed calls came from councillors as a report to a full council meeting outlined how more than £12,000 of debt accrued after benefits which were fraudulently claimed have been written off, while councillors queried granting new business licenses to those who still owe money from other ventures.

Coun Peter Evans said: “I was pleased to see Coun Simon Blackburn name and shame some of the individuals who did this.

“We should name and shame these people and try to get the money out of them.”

Coun Maxine Callow said she had deep concerns that £12,539 of debt was written off, despite it being found the cash had been paid to a woman to fund her elderly father’s care but was squandered elsewhere.

A report to Blackpool councillors, scrutinised at a full council meeting on Wednesday, noted that police were called in after the authority’s creditors team detected the fraud but Coun Callow revealed the debt had then been written off.

She added: “Why can we not pursue for this debt? In my opinion this has been stolen.

“Why can’t we go further and pursue this debtor for this money which belongs to the people of Blackpool.”

But deputy leader Coun Fred Jackson replied: “Debts have always been written off.”

Coun Simon Blackburn, leader of the council, declined to comment further on the issue of benefit fraud.