Surrey Heath Borough Council, Surrey County Council and six other Surrey councils, with the support of the Department for Communities and Local Government, have joined together to target fraud across the county.
The Surrey Counter Fraud Partnership (SCFP) has been created in order to detect and prevent fraud against the services the eight councils provide.
The partnership was formed after a successful bid to obtain central government funding for fraud deterrence and detection. Each participating authority has employed experienced fraud investigators dedicated to investigating the frauds that cost local tax payers. Particular areas, such as Council Tax Support and discounts, Business Rates evasion, Blue Badge fraud and disability fraud, will be targeted.
The SCFP will co-ordinate closer working, information sharing and resources between the councils, and will conduct county-wide anti–fraud campaigns.
Each authority’s fraud investigator will also work closely with Surrey based housing providers in order to identify and investigate tenancy fraud. The types of fraud include illegal sub-letting, abandonment of properties, false homelessness and housing applications, as well as Right to Buy fraud.
Councillor Richard Brooks, Surrey Heath’s portfolio holder for Finance, said: “It’s estimated that fraud against local authorities runs into millions of pounds each year. Such fraud and error not only reduces available resource to support genuine residents, but also reduces the amount of money that can be spent on essential services at a time of severe pressure on budgets.
“I am pleased that through partnership working, Surrey Heath is putting in place arrangements to catch and prosecute those who commit fraud. Surrey Heath already has a strong record in this area and the Surrey Counter Fraud Partnership initiative will help tackle incidents where people go to even greater lengths to cheat the public purse.”
Surrey Heath will also be working closely with local housing provider Accent to combat housing fraud in the area.
Cllr Colin Dougan, board member (SHBC representative) for housing provider Accent, said: “At a time when social housing is at a premium, it’s imperative that homes only go to those entitled to them.
“Through partnership working with other councils in Surrey and with Accent, we are boosting our activities to reduce tenancy fraud and deter people from thinking they can get away with abusing the social housing system.”
If you suspect that someone is receiving benefits they are not entitled to, please ring the council in confidence on 01276 707100 or visit www.surreyheath.gov.uk/reportit