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Councils get online arsenal to battle billion-pound bloodsuckers

All hands to repel freeloaders

Local authorities will be able to use a set of online products to help them fight housing tenancy, council tax and blue badge parking frauds, under new government guidelines.

The tools have been created as part of the "Fighting fraud locally" strategy. The strategy was the result of an eight-month review led by the National Fraud Authority (NFA) and is being supported by the department for Communities and Local Government and the Local Government Association.

The NFA said it worked with private and public sector partners to develop the online package of anti-fraud products and guides to support the strategy, including:

  • a fraud checklist to help local authorities identify possible gaps in a council's current fraud response;
  • an online fraud resilience check to help local authorities measure their resilience to fraud and assess if they need to improve;
  • a counter-fraud and corruption e-learning training course to help councils raise levels of awareness among staff and facilitate better detection rates; and
  • an online 'fraud zone' and discussion forum containing examples of anti-fraud best practice.

The free fraud resilience assessment tool asks users to answer 29 questions, based on professional standards for counter fraud work. It assesses the extent to which their organisation is effectively protected against fraud and is designed to help authorities ensure they have adequate protection in place.

Mike Haley, the NFA's director of public sector fraud, said: "If councils implement the recommendations and adopt the good practice set out in the strategy significant savings could be made – money which can be used to protect frontline services. We hope the free products we have helped develop will make a tangible difference in helping defeat fraudsters who target councils."

In its recently published annual fraud indicator report, the NFA estimates that fraud costs the economy £73bn a year – £2.2bn of which affects local government.

This article was originally published at Guardian Government Computing.

Guardian Government Computing is a business division of Guardian Professional, and covers the latest news and analysis of public sector technology. For updates on public sector IT, join the Government Computing Network here.

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