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London lays plans for counter-fraud hub



Councils and police to collaborate in using data to identify, prevent and recover cash from fraud

London local authorities are planning to develop a London Counter Fraud Hub (LCFH) as part of the effort to reduce identity fraud in the capital.

Ealing has received a £430,000 grant from the Department of Communities and Local Government to lead the work, collaborating with the City of London Police and the National Crime Agency.

All 32 boroughs and the City of London have signed a memorandum of understanding to participate, and the hub is scheduled to be operational by the end of 2016.

It will make it possible to for internal fraud teams to access data from each council, government departments and commercial sources, and use analytics to detect possible abuses of services such as housing tenancies, business rates and blue badge concessionary parking.

Budget struggles

Councillor Yvonne Johnson, Ealing’s cabinet member for finance, performance and welfare, said: “As councils struggle to cope with massively reduced budgets it is more important than ever to fight fraud. This new hub will build on existing counter-fraud work to help ensure that public funding is spent on public services.”

The initiative also has the support of London Ventures, a partnership between London Councils – the cross-party organisation for the city’s local authorities – and consultancy EY which is part of the Capital Ambition programme. London Councils said the most recent estimates from the National Fraud Authority state that councils lose £2.1 billion each year to fraud nationwide, including £133 million in unjustified council tax discounts.

Edward Lord OBE, chair of the Capital Ambition board, said: “The London Counter Fraud Hub is a fantastic example of London local government coming together in its entirety to address a critical loss of revenue at a time of unprecedented budget cuts. This has the potential to save local authorities significant sums of money and could prove a very good investment in the fight against fraud.”

London Councils said that once the hub has proved its effectiveness the approach could be extended to other parts of the country.

Picture by Mai-Linh Doan, CC Attribution Share-Alike 2.0 France through Wikimedia

This story was corrected on 17 December to remove a reference to the Chartered Institute for Public Finance and Accountancy working with Ealing.



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