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Councils found more than £300m in fraud during 2017-18

UK councils detected or prevented a total of £302m in fraud in 2017-18, according to CIPFA.

The organisation found that the number of fraud cases had increased compared to last year from 75,000 to 80,000, although the amount of money related to the cases was £34m less than in 2016-17.

The CPIFA Fraud and Corruption Tracker (CFaCT), a national overview of all fraud, bribery and corruption across local authorities, looks into UK local authorities to help them understand where fraud losses might be occurring and provide a guide to the value of the detected and prevented fraud loss.

It also aims to assist operational staff to develop pro-active anti-fraud plans and help leaders understand the value of anti-fraud activity.

CFaCT found that the number of cases regarding serious or organised crime had doubled compared to last year, and the amount lost to business rates fraud increased significantly to an estimated value of £7.3m.

For 2017-18, the four main types of fraud that affect local authorities are council tax, housing, business rates and Blue Badge fraud, which increased by £3m this year.

Rob Whiteman, chief executive of CIPFA, said: “Fraud is a serious issue for local authorities. We must collaborate to combat it and adopt a cross country strategic approach if we are to make serious inroads in the fight against fraud.

“Fraud deprives the government of the vital resources it needs to provide public services. When local government is running on empty – as it is now – it needs to preserve every last drop.”

Last week the government announced its first counter-fraud profession for the public sector, bringing together 10,000 counter-fraud specialists.

On Monday, the former pension fund manager of Westminster County Council was found guilty of defrauding the council £1m.

Top image: RapidEye

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