Plans to turn up the heat on criminals defrauding London’s councils have taken a major step forward with the appointment of the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy (CIPFA) to provide data analytics for the London Counter Fraud Hub.
The London Counter Fraud Hub is a partnership between all the London boroughs to better target fraudsters who attempt to con councils out of millions of pounds a year in unpaid council tax, illegal property letting and unpaid business rates. The hub has potential to save London taxpayers £60m a year on average.
The most recent estimates suggest that councils are defrauded of £2.1bn each year nationwide, including £133m in council tax discount fraud. Last year, London councils detected fraud to the value of £102m with housing frauds accounting for £74.5m of the total.
The initiative will help both prevent and uncover fraud within boroughs and across boundaries between boroughs, with perpetrators facing sanctions ranging from payment orders to lengthy prison sentences.
The contract with CIPFA will operate on a payment by results basis. A pilot phase will get underway in autumn 2016, with the hub launching its full operations in early 2017.
Rooting out fraud
Edward Lord OBE, chair of London Councils’ Capital Ambition Board, said: “As councils struggle with huge reductions to their budgets, it is imperative that we use new ways to root out fraud across the capital.
“The London Counter Fraud Hub will now give the London boroughs access to the most sophisticated data analytics to identify potential fraudsters and ensure that money lost to scams ends up in its rightful place – funding vital public services.
“The Hub will continue to consult regularly with the Information Commissioner to ensure that its operations meet the most rigorous requirements of data privacy and protection and build and maintain public trust.”
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