Communities Minister Marcus Jones has released some top tips to help councils root out the fraudsters cheating taxpayers out of billions of pounds each year.
Smart phone apps, e-learning for staff, and anti-fraud interactive maps are just some of the tools councils should use to root out fraudsters cheating local taxpayers out of billions of pounds each year, he said.
Jones said the new advice would be invaluable to help them “find, catch and prosecute the fraudsters”.
The practical guidance for all of local government will help claw back the estimated £2 billion lost every year to fraud and shine a light on innovative technologies and clever practices employed by the leading councils.
Jones said: “We are determined to find, catch and prosecute the fraudsters who rip-off councils denying taxpayers billions of pounds. Across government we are clamping down on corruption and I’d urge councils to make full use of these suggestions to get tough on fraud.”
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Councils have received £35m of government funding to help housing tenancy fraud and clamp down on business rates evasion, as well as cheats through procurement in fraud, and social care and health tourism.
The six steps needed to take the fight to the fraudsters according to Jones are:
- culture – creating culture where beating fraud is part of daily business
- capability – making sure counter fraud measures is appropriate to the range of risk
- capacity – deploying the right level of resource
- competence – having the right skills
- communication – raising awareness, sharing information and deterring fraudsters
- collaboration – working together across boundaries with other local authorities and agencies
Best practice already cited by the government include:
- Cambridgeshire and Northamptonshire councils have joined together to catch criminals by enhancing their specialist investigation service with extra training and devising, anti-fraud, corruption, bribery and money laundering e-learning resources for staff to highlight tell-tale signs of cheats.
- Telford and Wrekin council who have developed a smart phone app for residents to report suspected fraud which is also available for free for other councils to use until 2018.
- Trafford borough council who has used data to map out areas of the business at increased risk of fraud and to stop it before it occurs.
The Fighting fraud and corruption locally strategy provides a blueprint for a tougher response to fraud and corruption, setting out the importance for councils to set the tone from the top, to embed a counter fraud culture to look for and prosecute fraud where it is found.
Estimated losses to local government in the 2013 National Fraud Indicator was £2.1 billion, which was broken down as follows:
£845m – Housing tenancy fraud
£876m – Procurement fraud
£154m – Payroll Fraud
£133m – Council Tax fraud
£46m – Blue Badge Scheme misuse
35m – Grant fraud
£7.1m – Pension fraud
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