More than £296,000 in benefits were claimed fraudulently or in error over the past year from West Dunbartonshire Council.

The council’s corporate fraud team identified the money as part of 228 referrals from members of the public, 199 of which had grounds to be investigated.

Now the authority is in the process of recovering the money, with 15 cases passed on to the procurator fiscal which has resulted in six people so far receiving a criminal conviction – one alongside a fine, and five more with community work orders.

Four more referred cases are still going through the court system.

Administrative penalties totalling £7,533 were issued in less serious cases.

As part of their investigation work, the team also prevented £734,118 being lost to the council through benefits, discounts, homeless accommodation and council tenancies.

A total of £7,754 in fraudulent claims was made to the Scottish Welfare Fund, which provides assistance to citizens in hardship.

Three council houses were recovered from residents not occupying the property as their primary home, freeing up tenancies for genuine families in need.

Other work included 122 blue badges cancelled, and fraudulent or incorrect claims for single person’s discount for council tax ended.

Councillor Ian Dickson, convener of corporate services, said: “As a council, we have a zero tolerance approach to all types of fraud.“The support we offer is designed to help some of the most vulnerable in our society so it is vital that it is reserved for the people who really need it.

“It is disappointing that some members of the community have tried to abuse this by over claiming, or claiming when they are not eligible.“I am thankful for the thorough investigations of the corporate fraud team which have put a stop to this, and even more so for identifying genuine mistakes made during the claim process.”

Suspected frauds can be reported on the council’s website, by email to or You can also call the council on 01389 738217/738630/738374. Every referral is treated in complete confidence.