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Whistleblowers help tackle fraud

Latest news from the Suffolk Free Press, suffolkfreepress.co.uk, @sfpsudbury on Twitter
Latest news from the Suffolk Free Press, suffolkfreepress.co.uk, @sfpsudbury on Twitter

District council housing officers have investigated seven cases of suspected housing related fraud during the past year, it has been revealed.

One case, still being investigated, involved a social housing property being obtained by deception.

The other incidents involved potential illegal subletting – with one case still ongoing – abandoning properties and housing benefit fraud which was referred to the Department for Work and Pensions for further investigation.

The housing tenancy frauds are including in an annual report coming before Babergh and Mid Suffolk district councils’ joint audit and standards committee meeting on Monday.

Councillors will hear that all of the cases came about as a result of either anonymous complaints, whistleblowing or information gathered by both councils’ community housing officers, with the irregularities occurring since April 2015.

In a report to the committee, John Snell, the councils’ corporate manager – internal audit, said: “Right to Buys and tenancy frauds still feature as areas of fraud risk for councils.

“Previous work in these areas has been undertaken by internal audit and, as a result, a number of due diligence checks have been implemented to further strengthen the control environment.

“The councils are committed to ensuring that the opportunity for fraud and corruption is minimised.”

In Babergh, 53 cases were investigated under the National Fraud Initiative, involving data matching of records nationally from public service databases.

None of the causes were found to be fraud, but the report gives details of four cases where errors were made, with a total of £11,291 being recovered by the council.

They involved duplicate payments for a temporary worker when the council was invoiced twice in error by Suffolk County Council.

In that case, £6,926 was recovered. And where an IT security software supplier had ended up invoicing the council twice by error and £4,365 was refunded in full.

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