Local Authorities work collaboratively to tackle public sector fraud
Release date: 3 November 2016
Councils across Gloucestershire and West Oxfordshire District Council have successfully established a special combined unit to counter fraud and misuse of public funds. Set up as a pilot project, the new Counter Fraud Unit is using investigators’ specialist skills and expertise to tackle all forms of fraud and abuse against the public purse and to provide a dedicated unit to assist in enforcement and prosecution.
Building on an already successful Council partnership (Cotswold District Council, Cheltenham Borough Council and West Oxfordshire District Council) the creation of the unit has integrated other partners, including Gloucestershire County Council, Tewkesbury District Council, and Forest of Dean District Council - with Stroud District Council and Gloucester City Council as possible partners in the near future - thereby forming a hub organisation across the region. The Unit also provides services for environmental services company Ubico Ltd and Cheltenham Borough Homes and has the ability to extend these services to other Registered Social Landlords.
Cotswold District Council will be considering a proposal to permanently establish the Counter Fraud Unit in the New Year.
The hub is now planning the procurement and implementation of a data warehouse to legally store and match data across its partners, with the potential to share information with other public bodies and fraud hubs across the South West.
Cotswold District Council Leader, Cllr Lynden Stowe, is very pleased with the progress of the unit so far:
“The scale of fraud against local government is extensive, and estimates show that the cost is well over £2 billion each year. When the government transferred counter fraud staff from Local Authorities to the Department for Work and Pensions in 2013/14, it was clear that something had to be done to replace this expertise. Working on behalf of the local Gloucestershire authorities and West Oxfordshire, Cotswold District Council successfully bid for over £400,000 worth of funding - from the Department of Communities and Local Government – in early 2015 to accelerate the development of the new unit. Since then, they have made great progress, and studies show that they are on course to uncover fraudulent activity more successfully through better intelligence techniques and enhanced proactive joint working.”
Emma Cathcart, Counter Fraud Team Leader adds:
“We believe that the Counter Fraud Unit will make significant savings for all partner authorities through our intelligence-based counter fraud investigations. Misuse of public funds should be tackled and the unit can pursue criminals with effective and robust investigatory techniques. We have scope to operate locally with partners, third parties and other public bodies to maximise collaboration when dealing with those trying to defraud local authorities.”
The Counter Fraud Unit can be contacted by telephone on 01285 623400, 01285 623401 or 01242 264215 or by email firstname.lastname@example.org