Showing posts with label local totals. Show all posts
Showing posts with label local totals. Show all posts

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.


13 Oct 2017

Oxford recovers 21 social housing properties IN ONE YEAR

Oxford City Council's Investigation Service saved the Council £5.1 million in 2016/17, recovering 21 social housing properties that were in the hands of non-authorised occupants, and sifting out 33 fraudulent right-to-buy applications. (h/t Fraudmanager)

That was just in one year.

How much could that be nationally? Every year?

29 Sep 2017

East Devon DC checks council tax discounts

Checks to make sure East Devon householders who currently claim a 25 per cent council tax discount for living alone are still entitled to it are being carried out this month.

As part of East Devon District Council’s measures to prevent fraud and protect the public purse, checks are beginning this month to ensure that those claiming the discount are entitled to it.

Nationally, council tax discounts are the second highest area of fraud and error, behind welfare benefits. It is estimated that nationally £19.6 million is lost each year in incorrectly applied discounts.

£7.7 million is awarded annually to residents in East Devon receiving a single person council tax discount. This equates to an average reduction of £375 per year. Based on research, up to 5% of these discounts may be incorrectly claimed and in East Devon this could equate to up to £385,000 each year. When the review was last carried out, discounts of more than £182,000 were identified as being incorrectly claimed.

The council will be carrying out checks using sophisticated data-matching technology to make sure that around 21,000 households who currently receive a discount in the district are still eligible.

The council will be working with Datatank, a firm of data solutions specialists, to carry out the review by cross-referencing with other sources of information about households such as the electoral-roll registers and financial sector information.

Cllr Ian Thomas, East Devon District Council’s portfolio holder for finance, said: "I would like to stress that anyone genuinely claiming a reduction should not be concerned. However, if you are found to be deliberately misleading the council, you could face a penalty of £70, as well as having to repay the discount. Council taxpayers who claim the discount improperly place an unnecessary burden on the very real needs of some residents. We must treat such misinformation very seriously. Council taxpayers have a legal duty to advise the council of any changes to their single occupancy circumstances. This review will help us make sure our approach to the single person discount is robust, fair and cost effective."

The review will begin this month and be completed by December. As part of the process, Datatank will be contacting a sample of households by letter and/or telephone on behalf of the council.

The review is being jointly funded by the council, Devon County Council, Devon & Cornwall Police and Devon and Somerset Fire & Rescue Authority who each receive a portion of the council tax.