Posted: 09.09.20 at 17:23 by David Lawrence – Local Democracy Reporter
INVESTIGATIVE work by a job-sharing counter-fraud officer has helped unearth savings of nearly half a million pounds for Atherstone and North Warwickshire council tax payers.
Members of the borough council’s resources board were also told last night that there were also cases of properties being sub-let or abandoned.
A report by the corporate director of resources, Linda Downes, revealed the local authority’s part-time super sleuth had identified cashable savings of approximately £71,000 and notional ones of approximately £405,000.
The report explained: “Notional savings are the estimated future savings to the public purse as a result of the intervention and successful fraud investigation.
“For example, it is assumed that had it not been for the investigation a housing benefit claim would have continued to be paid at the higher rate for at least 21 weeks.
“The successful cases during 2019/20 have mainly been in relation to housing benefit and council tax fraud.
“However, there have been some cases of tenancy fraud identified through sub-letting or abandonment of the property, and this has resulted in four properties being recovered allowing them to be re-let to people on the waiting list.”
North Warwickshire’s current counter-fraud officer has been employed in a shared role with Nuneaton and Bedworth Borough Council since June 2018 and on average spends two-fifths of his time with the Atherstone-based local authority.
Nub News wonders what could be achieved with a dedicated full-timer?
Another report later in the meeting highlighted the lengthy delays in making some properties habitable again. It was reported that the average time for re-letting a house was 47.8 days.
The report added: “There were a significant number of void properties which needed extensive and structural works to be undertaken before they could be let.
"The average time to bring properties to a lettable standard that did not need extensive works was 19 days.”