Counter Fraud in Preston
We have a duty to protect public funds under section 151 of the Local Government Act 1972, which requires every Local Authority to make arrangements for the proper administration of their financial affairs.
The Council has a strong counter fraud culture and effective counter fraud policies and procedures.
Our response to fraud:
- Acknowledge the threat of fraud and the potential for savings that exists
- Prevent fraud by improving controls and developing a counter-fraud culture
- Pursue fraudsters with robust enforcement, to deter others
Common types of Fraud
Council Tax Fraud
The most common frauds relate to false claims for discounts and exemptions. This includes single person discount of 25% for sole adult occupiers and student exemption claims. Providing false information in order to avoid liability for Council Tax can also be a criminal offence.
Council Tax Support Fraud
This scheme has replaced Council Tax Benefit. It is a means tested allowance that allows for people on low incomes to apply to the Council for a reduction in Council Tax.
It can be a criminal offence to make false statements when claiming Council Tax Support, or to fail to promptly notify a relevant change in circumstances to the Council. Common frauds relate to non declaration of income, savings or other people living in the house, such as a partner or child(ren) over 18.
Business Rates Fraud
Business Rates fraud includes falsely claiming Mandatory or Discretionary rate relief or empty property exemption, failure to declare occupancy of a property, falsely using insolvency status with the intent to evade rate payment, not disclosing relevant information. For example, about the size of the company to gain rate relief and providing false information about the occupier of a property in order to avoid liability.
There is the potential for fraudulent claims against the Council. Employees may falsely claim to have been injured at work; members of the public may submit false "slip, trip and fall" claims or Council vehicles may be involved in motor traffic accident claims involving fraud.
This can lead to false claims for compensation, unnecessary absence from work and increased premiums.
Housing Tenancy fraud
Housing tenancy fraud is the occupation of social housing, usually to make a profit. It includes unlawful sub-letting, false homeless applications, false successions and right to buy.
The Prevention of Social Housing and Fraud Act 2013 gives Local Authorities powers to investigate tenancy fraud offences, even where the Council does not own the property.
Although the Council does not have its own housing stock, it works with social housing providers in order to detect and deter this fraud. The legislation came in to force on 15 October 2013.
Procurement and Internal / Employee Fraud
Any employee can perpetrate fraud against their employer. Procurement fraud is any fraud relating to the purchasing of goods and services. It includes fraud in the tender/bidder selection and contract award stages as well as fraud occurring during the life of a contract.
Employee frauds can include: misuse of time and resources; fraudulent claims for allowances and expenses; failure to register or declare conflicts of interest or the receipt of gifts or hospitality; as well as the manipulation of finance and payroll systems. It also includes staff pre-employment fraud, where false information is given in order to obtain employment.
How do I report any type of fraud?
If you want to report fraud to us, all the information you provide will be treated with strict confidentiality. You do not have to provide your name and contact details, but you can if you wish.
- By Telephone: Call us on 01772 906316
- In Writing to: Corporate Enquiry Team, Shared Services, Preston City Council, Town Hall, Lancaster Road, Preston, PR1 2RL
Counter Fraud Sanction Policy
The Counter Fraud Sanction policy sets out in what circumstances we will offer a simple caution, financial penalty or prosecute in cases involving fraud.