Croydon has been selected to join forces with four other London boroughs in a major crackdown on criminals defrauding councils out of millions of pounds.
The council’s experience and success in this field has seen it teamed up with Camden, Ealing, Islington, and Southwark to pilot the London Counter Fraud Hub. This partnership will eventually extend to all boroughs in the capital to better target those responsible for unpaid council tax, illegal property letting and unpaid business rates.
The hub, which is run with data analytics provided by the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy (CIPFA), has the potential to save London taxpayers an estimated £60 million a year.
The most recent figures suggest councils are defrauded of £2.1 billion each year nationwide, including £133 million in council tax discount fraud. Last year, London councils detected fraud to the value of nearly £100 million, with housing frauds accounting for £74.5m of the total.
The initiative will help both prevent and uncover fraud within boroughs and across boundaries between boroughs, with perpetrators facing sanctions ranging from payment orders to lengthy prison sentences.
“I’m very pleased Croydon is at the vanguard of this new crackdown on fraudsters. It’s absolutely wrong that the majority of council tax payers should have to subsidise this sort of illegal behaviour. Croydon already has a great record in tracking down on fraud, however, by working together with other boroughs to share data we can do so much more.”
Councillor Simon Hall, cabinet member for finance and treasury
Edward Lord, OBE, Chair of London Councils’ Capital Ambition Board, said: “It is vital that we find innovative ways to ensure councils are not losing money as a result of fraud.
“The five boroughs piloting the hub will have access to the most sophisticated data analytics to identify potential criminals, and seeing the hub in action will allow us to build a clear picture of the situation, take swift action, and ensure money lost to fraud is recouped to be spent on public services in Camden, Ealing, Islington, Southwark and Croydon.
“Estimates suggest councils across the country are defrauded to the tune of £2.1bn every year. Once operating across all boroughs, the hub will help bring down this worrying total and will make uncovering and sanctioning those responsible easier.”