Fraudsters thwarted by councils in London to the tune of £73 million

Councils in London uncovered £73 million of fraud last year, an increase of 46% on the previous year, a new study has found.

Protecting the London Public Purse is the first report of its kind looking specifically at fraud committed against London local authorities, and has been commissioned by the London Boroughs’ Fraud Investigators’ Group. The report finds:

  • While the number of fraud cases councils are dealing with has decreased by about 10%, the value of those cases has increased dramatically, by 46%
  • London boroughs recovered 1,618 properties from fraudsters in 14/15 – half the total recovered across the entire country
  • Right to buy fraud has seen a huge increase, with detected cases more than doubling to 300 in 14/15. Their value of this fraud increased by more than 185% to almost £26m, and analysis suggests that at least 3% of right to buy applications in London are fraudulent
  • A new type of fraud is emerging. Councils in London identified 432 cases worth more than £7 million relating to people with no recourse to public funds (more detail below)

Chair of the London Boroughs’ Fraud Investigators’ Group and Southwark Council fraud manager Kevin Campbell-Scott, said:

“Councils in London are leading the way in the fight against public sector fraud. Councils across the country can learn from our proactive approach to tackling fraud, and protecting the public purse, at a time when council coffers are stretched more than ever before. The sterling work our fraud teams are doing is taking money and council houses back from fraudsters, so that they can benefit those in genuine need. However we can’t be complacent. New risks are emerging all the time and we need to stay one step ahead of those who want to cheat the public purse.”

The emerging fraud relating to people with no recourse to public funds, involves people from abroad who are subject to specific immigration controls which prevent them from gaining access to welfare benefits or public housing. Because families in this category can sometimes seek assistance from the local authority, councils are starting to detect unscrupulous claimants using fake documents to wrongly claim they have children to obtain benefits.

The report goes on to demonstrate that London is the strongest performing area in the prevention and detection of fraud, and encourages councils with low levels of detected fraud to consider whether they are giving this issue the attention it deserves. Generally, local authorities with particularly high levels of non-benefit fraud detection have a strong corporate commitment to the fight against fraud and are often the most proactive and innovative in their approach.

The full report can be found here

For more information please contact Louise Neilan, Media Manager at Southwark Council, on 07944 163079





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