Benefit and council tax fraud to the tune of £200,000 uncovered in East Cambridgeshire

East Cambs District Council

East Cambs District Council - Credit: Archant

Benefit and council tax fraud totalling £201,925 were uncovered in East Cambs after investigators targeted the area as part of an eastern region fraud exercise.

The investigators used information provided by council workers, whistle blowers, matching data, and fraud hotline referrals.

The National Fraud Initiative is a sophisticated data matching exercise that ties up information between public sector bodies and is carried out every two years.

The last time it was completed in 2012 it revealed a staggering £229 million loss to the national public purse. Tenancy fraud alone in Cambridgeshire is estimated at £10 million a year.

Trevor Bowd, principal auditor for East Cambs District Council prepared a report for councillors to view the losses in the Ely area.

He said that the review was part of an ongoing duty to protect public funds and that it highlighted the ongoing work to develop the Cambridgeshire Fraud Hub.

He said: “The council must demonstrate that it is firmly committed to dealing with fraud and corruption and will deal equally with perpetrators from inside and outside the council.”

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Locally the fraud investigators work on behalf of five district councils comprising East Cambs, Breckland, Fenland, Forest Heath and St Edmunsbury under the umbrella of the Anglia Revenues Partnership (ARP).

Mr Bowd said: “During the financial year 2013/14 the ARP Fraud and visits team conducted over 400 investigations across all of the ARP partners and identified losses to the public purse amounting to £880,000.”

In the Ely area nine cases were offered a formal caution, eight received a ‘fine’ and 12 were successfully prosecuted.

The report includes fraud in housing benefit, council tax reduction and tenancy fraud.

The report is being circulated East Cambs councillors.