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Craven Council legal team prosecuting benefit cheats faces axe
2:10pm Friday 25th October 2013 in News
Craven Council’s legal team – which last year prosecuted benefit cheats who made more than £160,000 in bogus claims – is facing the axe.
The team successfully took action against 11 people who claimed more than they were entitled to.
But it is now under threat of being scrapped due to a government shake-up.
A plan by the Department of Work and Pensions would see the setting up of a Single Fraud Investigation Service, to be managed by the DWP.
If the proposals, which are due to go before the Treasury this month, are approved, the service will investigate all benefit and tax credit fraud from DWP offices – none of which is in Craven.
Craven Council’s deputy leader, Councillor Richard Foster, said: “The council is concerned that if SFIS, led by the DWP, who have little knowledge of council benefits, is responsible for investigating potential housing benefits fraud, it will not be a priority.
“Craven currently receives a significant number of informal investigation referrals from colleagues and other local sources and it is anticipated this close local connection and personal contact will be lost under the new proposals, and is likely to result in a decrease in fraud detection.”
He said it was currently not clear whether the council’s fraud officers would be transferred to the new service.
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