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14 Jun 2013

Preston anti-fraud team identifies £460k cheats

Preston Council’s anti-fraud team identified nearly £500,000 of fraudulent benefit claims last year.

The team achieved 80 sanctions, including 31 prosecutions, in Preston during 2012/13.

They identified fraudulent claims to the value of £462,132 by investigating referrals.

The team was set up to protect public funds by detecting and stopping as much Housing and Council Tax Benefit fraud as possible. It works with agencies such as the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), HM Revenues & Customs, Lancashire Police and Immigration officials.

Preston Council’s cabinet member for resources, Coun Martyn Rawlinson, said:
This report highlights the ongoing excellent work of the council’s counter fraud team, for which they have previously won awards. The skilled and dedicated staff work in partnership with the DWP on a daily basis to detect those out to defraud the taxpayer. These achievements should act as a stark warning to anyone not being entirely truthful with any benefit claims.
The team consists of seven staff, including four fraud officers, who also carry out work for Fylde Council as part of a shared service arrangement.

This five-year deal, which runs until August 2014, earns the council £106,000 per year.

In 2011 the team won the Gold Award for Excellence in Partnership Working at the Institute of Revenues, Rating and Valuation awards and since 2011 has also managed the Claim Security Team at Lancaster Council.

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