Seven more local authorities have joined the Staffordshire Counter Fraud Partnership, with the aim of keeping public money out of the hands of fraudsters.
Stoke-on-Trent City Council, working with Newcastle-under-Lyme Borough Council, created the Staffordshire Counter Fraud Partnership in 2019 to combine resources aimed at tackling non-benefit fraud against both authorities. The Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy said: “non-benefit frauds have a far greater direct financial and social harm impact on local people and local taxpayers”.
The ability to combine resources in the fight against fraud in Staffordshire has now been boosted by seven more local authorities signing up to the project:
- Staffordshire County Council
- Tamworth Borough Council
- Lichfield District Council
- Staffordshire Moorlands District Council
- Stafford Borough Council
- Cannock Chase Council
- South Staffordshire Council
Two Housing Associations; Aspire Housing and Staffs Housing have also joined the partnership.
The new partners will adopt the public fraud awareness campaign, ‘Spot the Cheater’ to encourage people across Staffordshire to report their suspicions of fraud. Fraudsters do not necessarily operate within council boundaries, therefore with further councils joining the partnership resources can be targeted more effectively and intelligence can be shared across council areas.
Councillor Abi Brown, leader of the city council said: “I am incredibly pleased to see more partners join the Staffordshire Counter Fraud Partnership. We have already built a strong anti-fraud culture across Stoke-on-Trent and Newcastle-under-Lyme and now this can be expanded across Staffordshire. Those who wrongly reckon they can cheat the system and get away with it have a huge financial and social harm impact on local people and local taxpayers.
“At a time when local government finances are hard pressed due to the coronavirus pandemic, it is vital that we effectively tackle fraudulent activity against local authorities and Housing Associations. We are committed to delivering quality services to those in genuine need and ensuring that fraudsters do not take money from vital public services.”
Anyone can report suspected fraudulent activity online at www.staffsfraud.org, by calling the council’s hotline on 01782 236800 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. All reports will be treated confidentially and can be made anonymously.