Released on 7 November 2005 Archived News
Fraud fighters in Stratford are joining forces in a three-counties campaign to catch benefit cheats who abuse the system of millions of pounds. Stratford-on-Avon District Council is working with sixteen other local authorities in Warwickshire, Worcestershire, and Staffordshire to deter and tackle the problem of benefit abuse.
The cost of fraud across the three counties runs to more than £25 million a year. New systems to counter fraud are being introduced that share information about current and expected trends. It will also profile the people most likely to commit benefit fraud.
"This is a huge joint exercise aimed at cracking down on the levels of fraud that are costing you and me millions of pounds each year," said Cllr Lynda Organ, Stratford's portfolio holder for property and resources.
"It will also reduce the error in the benefit system experienced by local authorities and protect funds that could be used more effectively on other public services."
The local councils signed up to this campaign collectively administer more than £410 million in every year. Benefit fraud experienced by local authorities and the government is a major drain on public funds nationally, and local residents can play their part too.
"Residents can make a significant contribution to this campaign by reporting anyone they believe is committing benefit fraud," said Cllr Gillian Roache, Stratford's portfolio holder for living in the district.
"Our fraud hotline number is 01789 260486 - all calls are confidential and we want to show that we are committed to tackling fraud and abuse within the benefits system. Residents can also report suspected fraud via the council website: email@example.com"
This new campaign is the largest ever to be funded by the Department for Work and Pensions. Anti-Fraud Minister James Plaskitt said:
"I welcome this campaign which supports techniques used by the Department for Work and Pensions to fight benefit fraud. These include powerful computer systems that help identify fraudsters by cross-referencing information across government departments.
"In partnership with local authorities like Worcestershire, Staffordshire and Warwickshire, we are taking action against more fraudsters than ever before - in 2003/04 there were over 37,000 prosecutions and sanctions. Closer working with our partners means that we know where and when people try to commit benefit fraud. People suspecting social security benefit fraud should call the DWP Fraud Hotline on 0800 854 440. All calls are treated in strictest confidence."
Stratford-on-Avon District Council
Elizabeth House, Church Street,
Tel: 01789 267575