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Preston City Council: City, Coast & Countryside - Counter Fraud Partnership

The project allowed the retention of a small corporate fraud team shared with Lancaster City Council and Fylde Borough Council, hosted by Preston City Council. This followed the success of the shared benefit fraud team between the authorities. The aim of the project was to prevent, detect and deter fraud across the three districts. The team consists of a manager, two investigators and two support staff.


The aim of the project was to prevent, detect and deter fraud across the three districts. The team consists of a manager, two investigators and two support staff

Issues, challenges and barriers

Although the team had knowledge and experience of criminal investigation it was initially difficult to investigate new areas of fraud, such as housing tenancy fraud and business rates. Only Lancaster has retained its own housing stock so it has taken time to build up relationships with local social housing providers. Also the expected progress with investigating procurement or insurance fraud has not been made, due to a lack of referrals and resources to undertake pro-active work in these areas. Some of the grant was used to retrain the investigators as CIPFA accredited counter fraud specialists.

All three councils have signed up to joint working with the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) on council tax reduction scheme and benefit fraud, with this due to commence in April 2019

Outputs and outcomes

The project allowed the three partner authorities access to a small but effective corporate counter fraud team. The initial three year contracts have now been extended as a result of the performance delivered for all three authorities.

In August 2018 Lancaster City Council prosecuted a business rates fraud, which the council believes to be only the second business rates prosecution in England.

Impact

From an original grant of £125,750, the scheme has delivered savings in 2015/16 and 2016/17 of £540,750, yielding a RoI of 4.3. Savings continued to be delivered, and savings to date total £1,886,044.

The savings have mainly come from council tax, council tax reduction scheme, tenancy fraud, housing benefit and latterly business rates cases. The Preston and Lancaster shared service has now been shortlisted in the “prevent” category of the Fighting Fraud and Corruption Locally Local Government Awards, based on the pro-active work on small business rate relief fraud.

Contact details

Andrew Taylor, Fraud Manager, Preston City Council, [email protected] , 01772 906013