Fraud hub would stop benefit cheats, says council

Pathfinder House, Huntingdon, HDC

Pathfinder House, Huntingdon, HDC

Archant

A ‘FRAUD hub’ for Cambridgeshire could help deprive benefit cheats of at least £324,000 if it is built.

Huntingdonshire District Council was approached by the Local Government Association to apply for £27,000 of funding to set up the new unit at its Pathfinder House headquarters.

The authority is one of only two in the country to use a computer system that acts as a “data warehouse”, which stores information about people’s benefits and payments in one place.

The system has cut the time it takes for the council to look into fraud claims from 20 days to three days and npw three other council, as well as five regional housing providers, have said they would like to join the system.

If the LGA grants the money, HDC fraud manager Nick Jennings predicts the hub will be able to recover 18 properties from the hands of benefit cheats.

The Audit Commission calculates that the amount saved in fraudulent money taken and the freeing up of social housing, so that homeless families do not have to live in bed and breakfast accommodation, is about £18,000 per house.

“There is also the moral aspect that living in bed and breakfast accommodation is not a very nice situation for people to be in,” Mr Jennings added.

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