Awareness week shines a light on the council's fight against fraudsters
Tuesday 14 November 2023: Hillingdon Council is encouraging residents to spot the signs of fraud, report them and look out for those who may become victims as part of Fraud Awareness Week 2023 (12 to 18 November).
Anyone who suspects that someone is committing fraud against the council can report it directly, in confidence, at www.hillingdon.gov.uk/reportfraud or by calling 0800 389 8313.
The council's counter fraud team is responsible for investigating a raft of potential frauds and dishonesty offences, including tenancy fraud, giving false information on applications, not declaring income and misusing parking Blue Badges.
In total, this financial year (2023-2024) the team has identified savings related to fraud and prevented the loss of more £3.4 million through its proactive activity and investigative work.
Cllr Jonathan Bianco, Hillingdon Council's Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Properties, Highways and Transport, said: "The council has a zero-tolerance approach to fraud, bribery and corruption. Our fraud team has a proven track record of working with local and national agencies to protect the public purse and leading successful prosecutions but stamping out fraud is everyone's responsibility.
"I encourage residents to contact us confidentially if they suspect someone is committing a fraud against the council and we will investigate. Anyone considering defrauding the council should also be warned that we have robust systems in place to investigate claims of fraud and we will use all the legal powers available to us to take the strongest form of action."
The counter fraud team's continued work and investigations have, so far this financial year, prevented the loss of £2.6 million and recovered 48 council properties due to tenancy and housing related non-occupation, subletting and abandonment.
They have also cancelled 19 accommodation placements due to non-occupation and false homelessness applications to the council's emergency accommodation since April 2023, saving the council £159,000.
More than £127,000 has also been saved through action taken against people fraudulently receiving financial assistance from the council for adult social care services where they haven't properly disclosed their income, savings or property ownership. Additionally, a further £92,000 has been saved in children's social care as a result of the identification of false applications for assistance.
Checks carried out by the onsite Immigration Official to verify documentation and provide up-to-date immigration status information for prospective or current council service users has prevented a loss of more than £68,000 so far this this year by identifying people no longer eligible for support due to their immigration status.
Additionally, the council has prosecuted three people for Blue Badge fraud, which has collectively cost the offenders more than £5,000 in fines and costs.
The team has also identified cases to the value of £75,000 through its proactive data matching through the National Fraud Initiative highlights cases of fraud or loss across a variety of council services where people have claimed single persons discount for council tax when they were not entitled to do so.