Unlocking homes by catching the crooks

Benefit fraudsters have been rumbled

Efforts to tackle fraud in East Dunbartonshire have potentially saved the public purse £3.6million and freed up more than 40 homes.

East Dunbartonshire Council’s Corporate Fraud Team received 248 reports of alleged fraud in 2016/17 - up 27 per cent on the previous year.

Council officers uncovered 42 cases of housing tenancy fraud and error.

Each case of tenancy fraud costs local authorities an estimated £93,000 and has a direct impact on people on the waiting list for social housing.

As a result of East Dunbartonshire investigations, 39 housing waiting list applications were identified as either fraudulent or containing errors, which resulted in the removal of the offer of a tenancy.

Three properties were identified as not being occupied and successfully reclaimed.

In addition, six homelessness applications were identified as having been made either fraudulently or in error.

One case has been submitted, for consideration of criminal proceedings, to the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service.

In 2016/17, the fraud team also uncovered council tax irregularities amounting to £202,412, business rates evasion of £54,363 and employment-related fraud/theft of £1,139.

In addition, a total of £89,337 was saved through the National Fraud Initiative.

Fraud was also uncovered in relation to education places and funding requests, and taxi licences.

Councillor Gordan Low, leader of the council, said: “Well done to everyone within the Corporate Fraud Team for their work over the past year.

“We have a zero-tolerance approach to fraud and corruption, and are committed to safeguarding public funds.

“Rest assured, we will continue to work with our partners to tackle all incidents of fraud - protecting the public purse and ensuring fairness as regards issues such as social housing, council tax and school placing requests.

“The assistance of the public is vital in the fight to safeguard public funds, properties and services.

“If you have any suspicions or information regarding any type of fraud being committed against the council please get in touch.”

If you would like to report a case of suspected housing or benefit fraud you can do so online at www.eastdunbarton.gov.uk/reportfraud, by emailing fraud@eastdunbarton.gov.uk, or by calling 0300 124 4510 and speaking to the fraud team.

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