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Fraud

Fraud is a criminal offence. Fraud is where someone acts dishonestly to make a gain for themselves or another person.

People who commit fraud deceive us by:

  • Telling us false information
  • Failing to tell us about certain things
  • Abusing their position

Fraud and corruption has a direct impact on the community as losses to us can mean cuts in services or increases in council tax costs to maintain services.

Our Anti-Fraud and Corruption Strategy is designed to prevent this from happening by promoting detection and supporting investigation.

We operate a shared service for all of our Audit and Counter Fraud activity, including investigation. This service is hosted by Medway Council.

Types of Fraud

  • Benefit fraud
  • Council Tax fraud
  • Housing and tenancy fraud

Report fraud

You can help us to fight fraud by reporting your concerns or suspicions to us using our online form.

You don't need to leave your details when completing the form. If you do want to leave your details, they will be kept in the strictest confidence.

Report suspected fraud

Once you've reported something to us we'll evaluate it to determine whether investigation is appropriate. The more information you give us the better as it will make the evaluation more comprehensive and a successful outcome more likely. 

All allegations relating to benefit fraud will be passed to the Single Fraud Investigation Service, who will conduct their own evaluation.

We're not able to comment upon ongoing investigations and, due to Data Protection, we are unable to give feedback on any reported allegations, so if you report a suspected fraud, we will not be able to update you on how an investigation is proceeding.

Prevention, detection and investigation

The best way to fight fraud is to try and prevent it happening in the first place.

We've put a number of arrangements in place to detect and prevent fraud and corruption activity. This includes a thorough verification of the circumstances detailed on applications received for various services, such as benefits and housing.

We also take part in a number of data matching exercises designed to identify discrepancies in a person's declared circumstances from records held.

Data is matched from other departments within the council, other government bodies, social housing providers and other partner agencies.

If it is alleged that someone is committing fraud, it will be reviewed by us and, where appropriate, we will investigate. All allegations relating to benefit fraud will be passed to the Single Fraud Investigation Service at the Department for Work and Pensions.

Where it is proven that someone has deliberately attempted to get council tax reductions/discounts/exemptions, business rates reductions/exemptions, housing, any service to which they are not entitled, or have sub-let or parted with possession of their council housing we will have to take action.  

In all cases we will look to recover the money that we have lost and then consider whether any further action needs to be taken. This could include criminal proceedings. We will always publicise the details of any successful convictions to try and prevent others from doing the same.

National Fraud Initiative

We're required by law to protect the public funds we administer. We may share information provided to us with other bodies responsible for auditing or administering public funds, in order to prevent and detect fraud.

Data matching involves comparing computer records held by one body against other computer records held by the same or another body to see how far they match. This is usually personal information. Computerised data matching allows potentially fraudulent claims and payments to be identified. Where a match is found it may indicate that there is an inconsistency which requires further investigation. No assumption can be made as to whether there is fraud, error or other explanation until an investigation is carried out.

The Cabinet Office currently requires us to participate in a data matching exercise known as the National Fraud Initiative (NFI) to assist in the prevention and detection of fraud. We are required to provide particular sets of data to the Cabinet Office for matching for each exercise, and these are set out in the Audit Commission's guidance.

The use of data by the Cabinet Office in a data matching exercise is carried out with statutory authority under its powers in Part 6 of the Local Audit and Accountability Act 2014. It doesn't require the consent of the individuals concerned under the Data Protection Act 1998.

Data matching by the Audit Commission is subject to a Code of Practice.

For further information on the Audit Commission's legal powers and the reasons why it matches particular information, please visit GOV.UK.