Council fraud detection ‘tip of iceberg’

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Councils fighting fraud are detecting “only the tip of the iceberg” as local government is targeted by new forms of deception, a report warns.

Research by the Audit Commission has found that while councils were more efficiently tackling long-established frauds, new scams were emerging in areas such as business rates, right-to-buy housing schemes and at schools, the report Protecting the Public Purse 2012 – Fighting Fraud Against Local Government said.

Between April 2011 and April 2012 councils in England uncovered a total of more than 124,000 cases of fraud adding up to £179m.

That compares to the 121,000 cases, totalling £185m, detected the previous year.

Jeremy Newman, chairman of the Audit Commission, said: “There is no doubt our findings show councils increasingly out-smarting the fraudsters. But while they are busy tackling established frauds, new ones keep emerging.”

An Audit Commission spokesman said: “There has been an increase in the amount of fraud detected by councils, but the fraud detected is the tip of the iceberg.”