CHEATING parents who lie about their address to get their children into Solihull’s top schools have been warned they will almost certainly be caught.
There has been a nationwide increase recently in the number of parents making fraudulent applications for school admissions, using false home addresses.
Solihull Council has uncovered an incredible 25 such applications since the current school year began last September, and is now stepping up its efforts to clamp down on address fraud.
If it suspects something is wrong, the council writes to an applicant asking him or her to provide further proof that they live within their chosen school’s catchment area. In any instances where this is not given, the application is refused.
Popular methods include using the address of grandparents or friends to get a youngster into a particular school.
Under new powers issued in 2006, parents can be charged with fraud by false representation, however Solihull has not yet pursued any prosecutions.
The growing problem of address fraud has been blamed on the rising birthrate and the economic downturn forcing some parents to opt for state education instead of fee-paying schools.
Councillor Ken Meeson, council leader and cabinet member for education, children and young people, said there would always be some people prepared to bend the rules.
“If they don’t live in the right catchment area, they’ll maybe use a grandparent’s or friend’s address for the application,” he said. “Or they’ll even go as far as to rent a flat temporarily and use that address.
“But I have to warn these people that if they are not truthful they will be found out and will have to face the consequences. Their children’s schooling could suffer as a result.”
Cllr Meeson added that the council was “very reluctant” to take offenders to court but it could come to that in some cases.
A person using a fake address for a school admission application can be jailed for a year or fined £5,000.