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Council continues clampdown in fight against fraudsters

News release 10200, published on 28 Jun 2022
More than £173,000 of fraud and error has been uncovered in the past year following investigative work to ensure public funding goes to eligible residents.

By working closely with partners and taking advantage of sophisticated data matching technology, Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council has identified £173,983 which has been wrongly claimed, or which would otherwise be lost, during the financial year in 2021/22.

This included £90,689.74 of actual fraud and £83,293.85 of prevented fraud on council tax discount, council tax reduction, COVID-19 grants and housing benefit claims.

The National Fraud Initiative run by the Cabinet Office, which uses data matching technology to uncover false claims for single person council tax discounts, was used to successfully identify more than £60,000.

Alongside the work to identify and prevent fraudulent claims, the council chairs the Hampshire Fraud Group – a group of fraud specialists from councils across the county. The team also helps to promote information on the impact of fraud and money laundering and how to report fraud to the council.

Cabinet Member for Finance and Property Cllr John Izett said: “We take fraud and attempted fraud against the public purse very seriously and work hard, alongside other agencies, to investigate and prosecute where necessary. This includes people falsely claiming council tax single person discount, companies claiming business rate exemptions they aren’t entitled to and people applying for money on a property they aren’t eligible for.

“We have strong processes in place to prevent fraud being committed in the first place, However, given the nature of fraud, there will always be a risk of it occurring so part of our work is actively searching for this and taking appropriate action to recover these funds and prevent losses.

“Each year we receive hundreds of referrals from the public and our partners about suspected fraud and we follow up on all of these reports. We would encourage members of the public to report any genuine suspicions they have of fraud against the council to us.”

To report any suspicions, please call the fraud hotline on 0800 525927 or email fraudinvestigators@basingstoke.gov.uk.

ENDS

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