27 October 2014
The highest value of fraud worth £188 million was detected by England’s councils in 2013/14, a ten-fold increase since 1990.
The figure beats all records for the past 25 years, the Audit Commission revealed in its latest report on fraud in local government.
Protecting the Public Purse 2014 Fighting Fraud against Local Government, the final one being issued before the Commission closes at the end of March 2015, looks at the landscape of fraud against councils and how this has changed since 1990, when the Audit Commission first turned the spotlight on to local government fraud with its ‘Protecting the Public Purse’ reports.
Jeremy Newman, Chairman of the Audit Commission, comments: ‘Protecting the Public Purse’ has helped local government foster greater transparency and accountability around its response to fraud. In the early days, it created a common language with which to report fraud.
'By allowing councils to make peer comparisons, the Commission’s work has helped councils to benchmark their individual performance against local and national figures. I believe it also encouraged the sector to develop a real passion for fighting fraud – a passion that has ensured that £188 million of fraud was detected by English councils in 2013/14: the highest total value we have recorded and a six per cent increase on the result we reported for 2012/13.'
At one time, housing tenancy fraud, such as illegal subletting, was viewed by some councils as a low priority. However, these days, Councils are doing well in turning the tide against housing tenancy fraud. There has been close to a six-fold increase in the number of council homes recovered from housing tenancy fraudsters in just five years by councils outside London.
According to the Audit Commission, despite an increasing number of councils playing their part in the fight against fraud, there are still 39 councils (of which 35 are district councils) that did not detect a single case of non-benefit fraud. However, this is down from 88 recorded in the previous year.