A new campaign is urging residents to join East Dunbartonshire Council in its fight against fraud and raise awareness of the issue.
Reminding people that fraud against the public purse affects everyone, the campaign slogan is: ‘It’s not right, it’s not fair and it’s you who pays’.
Campaign posters give examples of some of the frauds committed against the council and provide details on how residents can join the fight against fraud by reporting their suspicions.
It’s hoped that it will help the council’s fraud team continue to catch more culprits, having uncovered £3.5m of housing benefit in the last five years.
Additionally, in tackling tenancy fraud the team has recently identified 20 fraudulent cases, released 13 homes for legitimately entitled families, recovered three homes from fraudsters and referred five individuals for prosecution – a Scottish first.
The council is also on the trail of people fraudulently claiming single person’s discount on council tax, unearthing nearly 170 cases resulting in £180,000 being recovered and reinvested in council services.
Council leader Rhondda Geekie said: “East Dunbartonshire Council is committed to developing an anti-fraud culture among the public and its employees. It has a zero tolerance approach to fraud which is costly and prevents help going to those who need it most. We are already making great in-roads but always need local people’s help.”
The team of specialist officers is turning its attention to investigating frauds involving blue badges, business rates, Council Tax, insurance, tenancy and procurement as well as any other fraud against the Council.
Councillor Geekie added: “In the current financial climate, local authorities must do everything possible to ensure that fraud is prevented. We can do that more effectively by working together with our local communities.
“It’s important to understand that these types of fraud are not victimless crimes. People in our communities who dupe the Council are taking cash from much-needed services and preventing legitimate people accessing the services they need.
“Ultimately we all pay when scarce resources are plundered by wrong doers.
“Taking tenancy fraud as an example: just one unscrupulous person living in social housing that is not entitled to that tenancy, costs the public £18k per year. That’s a staggering figure and I’m pleased to see our fraud team finding the culprits but they need help.”
Anyone with suspicions, no matter how trivial, should contact the fraud team in confidence by calling 0300 1234510, online at www.eastdunbarton.gov.uk/reportfraud, or by emailing email@example.com
All reports are confidential and all will be followed-up.