According to a Sheffield Council report, gangs are exploiting families within with the city’s Roma community by convincing them to lie about child illnesses in order to receive larger benefit payments.
The council is hoping to work with GPs and the Department of Work and Pensions to raise awareness of “fabricated illness”, which is considered fraud.
Councillor Jim Steinke, cabinet member for neighbourhoods and community safety said: “our officers are really clamping down on this illegal activity.”
“The fraud is bad enough but there is also a serious exploitation of children.”
Steinke went on to admit it was unclear how widespread the problem was.
Daniela Olszewska, a member of the Romanian community living in Darnell said: “it can hard for Romanians who haven’t lived here very long, we struggle with the language and can be misled quite easily”
“There’s definitely a stigma in the media against us and we need to work to improve that.”
The report added that the council’s Multi Agency Support Teams have struggled working with Roma families due to the fraud, preventing effective work on the other issued faced by families.
The report is due to be discussed by the children and young people’s scrutiny committee next Monday.