Statcounter

24 Jul 2019

Plymouth City Council fraud team saves £1.4m

Fraud investigators saved Plymouth City Council more than £1m in the last financial year.

The small team dealt with 262 allegations, resulting in 15 prosecutions and 44 sanctions including formal cautions.

The work saved the council a total of more than £1.4m in the 12 months to the end of March, councillors were told in a report.

The team also visited 600 households to check claims for council tax support and single person’s discount.

They found 173 cases of incorrect claims and some have been referred on to other agencies.

The team is currently working on 141 live fraud cases with a waiting list of between 20 and 30 allegations which will all be investigated.

A report to the authority’s audit and governance committee from counter fraud services manager Ken Johnson said: “Counter fraud work is notoriously difficult to effectively and accurately quantify due to the nature of the offences. It is by nature a hidden criminal offence.”

The report said it was difficult to accurately estimate the total savings achieved by anti-fraud work, as offences would have continued without intervention to stop them.

In a recent case, a woman was sentenced at Plymouth Magistrates Court to a curfew for illegally claiming around £2,500 in council tax support after she failed to report changes in household income, which also resulted in a £10,000 overpayment of housing benefit.

In another case, a man applied to buy his social housing property with a £40,000 discount, but investigators discovered he had moved out and sub-let his home to a friend.

The man admitted the offences and was given a community order at Plymouth Crown Court.

Cllr Sally Haydon, the council’s cabinet member for customer focus and community safety, said at the time: "Fraud will not be tolerated in Plymouth, especially when it attempts to deny innocent people of something they really need. Social housing is an essential community asset and with waiting lists at an all time high, it is not for people to make money out of.”

The city's counter fraud services team was transferred to the Devon Audit Partnership last year and is the leading operation in its field in the South West, winning a series of national awards including 2018 Team of the Year.

Source

No comments: