It is essential for local government to take action to tackle fraud in every possible way and therefore help prevent the current loss of £2 billion of taxpayers’ money, Baroness Hanham said in a keynote address on 6 December 2012.
The remarks came as the review on the local government’s ‘Fighting Fraud locally’ report was launched at the annual Fighting Fraud Locally conference, which highlighted the progress made by councils in 2012 in reducing the risks they face. Fraud costs every adult in the country about £1,140 a year.
At the event, attended by over 200 local authority members, the minister said councils needed to assess whether they had sufficient controls in place to prevent fraud happening.
The minister praised the action already taken by most councils to tackle fraud and encouraged them all to follow the lead set by the west London tri-borough authorities, in particular in the investigation of tenancy fraud.
Baroness Hanham said:
“Fraud costs this country more than £73 billion a year, over £2 billion of which is lost to local government. This is a complete waste of taxpayers money.
“It is essential councils do everything they can to not only prevent fraud, but recover lost money and pursue fraudsters in court.
“The approaches recommended in the local government’s ‘Fighting Fraud Locally’ report sets out how to tackle local fraud through better detection and fraud recovery. Councils cannot afford to have resources meant for vulnerable people and front line services being stolen by fraudsters.”
The government is helping create an environment where councils can tackle tenancy fraud, in particular through a series of measures including:
The latest survey of fraud against local bodies can be found in the Audit Commission’s report, Protecting the Public Purse 2012.