THURROCK’S counter fraud team is continuing to prove its worth, having detected crimes amounting to almost £240,000 reports the Local Democracy Reporter.
Figures for quarter three of 2022/23 show the team recovered two council homes saving the council £47,000 and detected crimes worth £192,300.
A report to Thurrock’s standards and audit committee shows the counter fraud team detected £4.62 of fraud for every £1 spent despite a reduction in staff numbers.
The Counter Fraud and Investigation service is responsible for the prevention, detection and deterrence of all instances of alleged economic crime affecting the authority including allegations of fraud, theft, corruption, bribery and money laundering as well as offences concerning social housing.
More than 100 investigations are currently being carried out.
The report said: “The counter fraud function receives funding from the Housing Revenue Account to conduct housing investigations and this includes offences under the Protection of Social Housing Fraud Act, which has made it a criminal offence to sub-let or abandon your social housing property without notifying the local authority in question.
“When offences like this are identified, individuals are dealt with as per legislation and the priority is the return of social housing through recovery to the authorities housing stock. For every property that is recovered and returned to the housing stock from those that do not need, live in or qualify for them, £23,500 is, on average, saved by other council departments in various costs.”
The council is undergoing a review by commissioners appointed by the Government to deal a £469million defecit. The council is unable to spend money without permission from a spending panel.
Despite its good work, this has meant the fraud team is unable to proceed with some of its plans. The report added: “Some areas of the proposed work can no longer be completed due to the resourcing review, however in those areas that can be completed, work is ongoing.
It has been decided that no new work plan items will be added to replace those that have now been pushed into 2023/24 or are not able to be proceeded with.”