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30 Dec 2016

Council fraud operation is self-financing

The corporate fraud investigation team of Argyll and Bute Council has recovered almost £80,000 in its first year.

It will now continue its anti-fraud activities on a permanent basis as it pays for itself.

The team – formed in October 2015 – is responsible for investigating revenue and benefit, council tax, non-domestic rates and other corporate fraud as well as acting as a single point of contact for ongoing housing benefit fraud investigations.

At the end of its first year of operation in September, the team had already detected £175,000 of fraud and successfully recovered almost half of that figure (£79,535) with work ongoing to recover the remainder of the outstanding money.

The council has now agreed that the two investigators – which have until now been temporary – should be made permanent posts on the basis of them being self-financing.

This will allow the team to continue to successfully investigate and detect those fraudulently claiming single person discount, evading empty dwelling double charge as well as fictitious tenancies and other fraud.

Councillor Dick Walsh, Leader of Argyll and Bute Council, said: “If our Corporate Fraud Investigations Team had not been in place a significant amount of fraud would have gone undetected and fraudulent activity would no doubt have carried on. Our small team is carrying out extremely important work and achieving great results. It has already proved its worth; it is self-financing and is helping to strengthen the council’s response to fraud.”

The team was formed following the transfer of the council’s housing benefit fraud team from the council to the Department of Works and National Pensions Single Fraud Investigation Team.

Source

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