Fraud prevention 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 inconsistencies in a person's declared circumstances from records held.
As well as the National Fraud Initiative, data is matched from other departments within the council, other government bodies, social housing providers and other partner agencies. We are also part of the Kent Intelligence Network.
Local authorities in Kent collaborate by sharing information to identify potential fraud.
These local authorities are:
- Kent County Council
- Medway Council
- Kent and Medway Town Fire Authority
- the Kent district
- borough and city councils
If it is alleged that someone is committing fraud, we will review and then investigate if necessary.
All allegations relating to benefit fraud will be passed to the Single Fraud Investigation Service at the Department for Work and Pensions.
We will take action if it is proved that someone who is not entitled has deliberately attempted to get:
- Council Tax reductions, discounts or exemptions
- business rates reductions or exemptions
- any service to which they are not entitled
- have sub-let or parted with possession of their council housing
In all cases we will look to recover the money back that we have lost and then consider if 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 stop others from doing the same.
National Fraud Initiative
We must 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 found. If a match is found it may show that there is an inconsistency which needs 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 help prevent and detect fraud. We must 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. It does not 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.