The Counter Fraud Section will investigate all frauds committed against the Council. The majority of the team's work however relates to Housing and Council Tax Benefit Fraud.
Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit are Department of Work and Pensions’ (DWP) benefits which are administered by Local Authorities. These benefits are paid to households on low incomes to assist with the payment of their rent and/or Council Tax. The Counter Fraud staff investigate potential fraud related to these benefits. The section also investigates potential fraud relating to DWP benefits such as Income Support and Job Seekers Allowance in certain instances.
The Division works very closely internally with the Revenues and Benefits Division, and Trading Standards along with individual members of staff and Councillors who may report suspected fraudulent Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit claimants, and also provide details on claimants.
Externally there is much contact and “partnership” working with Utility companies, the Department of Work and Pensions, Police, Land Registry, other Local Authorities and members of the public who often report suspected fraud and therefore assist with investigations.
Counter Fraud Service History
The Counter Fraud function was established in 1994, initially with 1 member of staff, in response to new Government targets for the identification and investigation of Benefit Fraud. Over time this has grown to 3 Benefit Investigator posts, and a Counter Fraud Manager.
The targets and incentives have changed and amended over the years and made more difficult to achieve. The Service has, to date, always exceeded the targets.
“To provide a cost effective, professional, thorough and impartial investigation of fraud committed against the Authority, to promote fraud awareness and to foster an anti-fraud culture within the Authority and amongst the public.”
To provide a cost effective, impartial service to investigate and prevent fraud against the Council.
- To maximise the number of successful investigations by ensuring compliance with the Prosecution Policy, appropriate professional, legal requirements and other Council Procedures and working collaboratively with key partners such as DWP, Police and LA’s
- To ensure compliance with DWP performance standards
- To promote the Policy Statement on Fraud and Corruption by raising awareness with councillors, employees and the public
- To undertake appropriate initiatives to identify fraud