More than 200 fraud cases uncovered by Brighton and Hove council investigators

Posted On 06 Jan 2015 at 10:52 am

More than 200 cases of fraud were uncovered by Brighton and Hove City Council investigators in the past financial year.

The council’s auditors Ernst and Young said that the value of the 245 cases of fraud detected was more than £1.1 million.

Almost the whole sum was made up of housing benefit and council tax benefit fraud, with just over 1 per cent of housing benefits claimants found to have made a fraudulent claim.

The figures were included in a report to members of the council’s Audit and Standards Committee.

An Ernst and Young auditor will give members a briefing about fraud and counter-fraud strategies when the committee meets at Hove Town Hall at 4pm next Tuesday (13 January).

The report makes no mention of two significant events during the financial year in question.

One was the departure of the council’s head of audit and business risk Ian Withers.

The other was the sacking of the council’s head of housing Jugal Sharma after an investigation by Sussex Police into a possible £18 million housing fraud.

Mr Sharma, who denies any wrongdoing, was reported to be planning either to appeal against his dismissal or take the matter to an employment tribunal.

In the year in question Ernst and Young said that the council recovered 10 properties as the result of social housing fraud.

The council did not detect any cases of disabled parking or blue badge fraud although the law in this area has recently been strengthened.

Simon Kirby, the Conservative MP for Brighton Kemptown, introduced a private member’s bill in Parliament to tighten up the rules about blue badges. It was passed with cross-party support.

The council did detect five cases of internal fraud with a value of more than £33,000.

Ernst and Young said in its report: “Detected fraud is indicative, not definitive, of counter-fraud performance. Prevention and deterrence should not be overlooked.

“No fraud detected does not mean no fraud committed. Fraud will always be attempted and even with the best prevention measures some will succeed.

“Councils who look for fraud, and look in the right way, will find fraud.”

The report and briefing are intended to give councillors a chance to review the council’s approach to tackling fraud, it strategy and priorities.

The auditor provides information gleaned from other councils and details of national trends to help the committee discuss fraud risks and how best to deal with them.

  1. feline1 Reply

    £33 grand of fraud within B&HCC??
    Which departments? Who’s been sacked and prosecuted? FFS!

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