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15 Jan 2015

Social housing fraud in Brighton & Hove

Brighton and Hove City Council has been swindled out of more than £1.1 million.

The council has lost £1,118,442 in 245 cases of fraud in the 2013/14 financial year, a report published by the Audit Commission said.

The number of detected cases is less than the average for other similar authorities, but the value of the fraud is nearly double the average.

Housing benefit and council tax benefit fraud accounted for most of the money. They amounted to 115 cases costing £1,088,442. The council also recovered ten properties as a result of social housing fraud.

In addition to the sum, there were five cases of internal fraud found, at a value of £33,183, recorded in the report.

The council has been unable to give details of these incidents so far and the dismissal of officer Jugal Sharma was not mentioned in the report. Mr Sharma, the head of housing, was relieved of his post in January last year but officially sacked in November on the grounds of gross misconduct linked to short-term leasing arrangements.

Ian Withers was also not mentioned. The head of audit and business risk, who investigates fraud claims, was suspended over alleged misconduct in December 2013.

All the figures in the annual survey of fraud and corruption in each council were below the average for similar sized authorities.

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