Hillingdon Council is urging residents to participate in Fraud Awareness Week 2023, running from November 12 to 18, by staying vigilant for signs of fraud, reporting suspicions, and keeping an eye out for potential victims. Fraud, a severe crime with detrimental effects on victims and council resources, is a focal point of this initiative.
Residents are encouraged to confidentially report suspected fraudulent activities against the council through the official website (www.hillingdon.gov.uk/reportfraud) or by calling 0800 389 8313. The council’s counter fraud team is actively investigating various potential frauds and dishonesty offenses, ranging from tenancy fraud to providing false information on applications, failure to declare income, and misusing parking Blue Badges.
In the ongoing financial year (2023-2024), the council’s counter fraud team has already identified savings linked to fraud, preventing a loss of over £3.4 million through their measures and investigative efforts.
Cllr Jonathan Bianco, Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Properties, Highways and Transport at Hillingdon Council, said: “The council has a zero-tolerance approach to fraud, bribery and corruption. Our fraud team has a proven track record of working with local and national agencies to protect the public purse and leading successful prosecutions but stamping out fraud is everyone’s responsibility.
“I encourage residents to contact us confidentially if they suspect someone is committing a fraud against the council and we will investigate. Anyone considering defrauding the council should also be warned that we have robust systems in place to investigate claims of fraud and we will use all the legal powers available to us to take the strongest form of action.”
In the current financial year, Hillingdon Council’s counter fraud team has achieved significant success in preventing financial losses and safeguarding resources. Their efforts have led to the prevention of a £2.6 million loss and the recovery of 48 council properties, addressing issues related to tenancy, housing non-occupation, subletting, and abandonment.
The measures have resulted in the cancellation of 19 accommodation placements, saving the council £159,000 by addressing non-occupation and false homelessness applications for emergency accommodation since April 2023. The counter fraud team has also saved more than £127,000 by taking action against individuals who fraudulently received financial assistance for adult social care services without proper disclosure of income, savings, or property ownership. Additionally, they saved £92,000 in children’s social care by identifying and addressing false applications for assistance.
The onsite Immigration Official’s checks to verify documentation and immigration status for council service users have prevented a loss of over £68,000 by identifying individuals no longer eligible for support based on their immigration status.
The council’s commitment to tackling fraud is further exemplified by the prosecution of three individuals for Blue Badge fraud, resulting in fines and costs exceeding £5,000 collectively. Moreover, the team’s proactive data matching through the National Fraud Initiative has uncovered cases amounting to £75,000, highlighting instances where individuals wrongly claimed single persons discount for council tax.