Praise for Lewes council’s counter fraud team

The work of the Lewes counter fraud team has been praised after appearing in a BBC docuseries.

Friday, 30th July 2021, 12:31 pm
Lewes District Council Southover House SUS-190904-113402001

On Monday (July 26) Lewes District Council’s audit and standards committee heard how the authority’s investigation into a right to buy application had featured on the BBC series Fraud Squad earlier this year.

Jackie Humphrey, the chief internal auditor at Eastbourne Borough Council and Lewes District Council, said: “That one in particular was one where the team had gone out to check the property and found that it was a different person living there.

“The team do work very closely with the housing department and do feed all this back, but we found it was a much better play to have [counter] fraud look at one step and then hand it back to the department to carry on.” 

The committee heard that the council was almost £1m better off as a result of its counter fraud work in 2020/21. 

This was both because of additional income of almost £375,000 and around £602,000 of ‘preventative savings’ as a result of reviews and investigative works.

The committee heard how £575,300 of these preventative savings were the result of right to buy applications being withdrawn after review. 

Not all of these were necessarily fraudulent, however one case is currently set to go to court in December, the committee heard.

The team is also currently undertaking post-verification work on the small business grants intended to support businesses during the covid lockdown. 

This work was requested by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) and more than 400 applications have currently been reviewed within the district. Recovery action will be taken on any incorrectly awarded grants.