Crackdown on catchment fraud

Six families have lost their school places after being caught giving false statements to get their children into popular city primaries in a crackdown by the City of Edinburgh Council.

As a result of the investigations by the Council's fraud team, the offer of places was withdrawn and several other families dropped their requests when they discovered they were being investigated.
In some cases, families were also found to be fraudulently claiming housing and council tax benefits and were then forced to repay the money. In one instance, where a tenant was discovered to be sub-letting their council house, they lost their tenancy.

Councillor Paul Godzik, Convener of Education, Children and Families, said: "We know this is an issue that concerns many parents and we take it very seriously. If we believe there is a possibility that fraud is being committed, we will investigate. If we discover this to be the case we will withdraw the school place.

"By working with the Council's fraud team, we are able to access a greater range of information, including credit checks, and this has allowed us to identify instances of fraud. Anecdotally we believe there are a number of schools in the city where this is likely to be a greater issue than others and we investigate all potential cases. This year we plan to put these schools under greater scrutiny with spot checks at different stages of the process."

When registering for a school place for the first time, parents need to provide a council tax demand notice and recent utility bill. If someone is moving house they need to provide proof of purchase and their tenancy agreement.  If they are moving to a different Edinburgh address they will also need to provide proof of sale or termination of lease.

When pupils move from primary to secondary school they are allocated a place based on the current address information held by their school. Spot checks will be carried out to ensure this is accurate.
The Corporate Fraud Team can carry out credit checks, check council tax records and carry out unannounced home visits to establish whether or not someone is actually living at the address they claim to be at. If nobody is at home when they visit, they will speak to neighbours to try and find out if they know who was living in the house.

And the fraud team will continue their address checks during the school registration process which starts in November.

Anyone who believes a parent has given false information to register for a school place can contact the school placing team on 0131 469 3033 or email school.placements@edinburgh.gov.uk. All cases will be treated confidentially and you will remain anonymous.

Note to Editors.

Registration week for P1 places for August 2016 will take place this year from 9-13 November.

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