August 5, 2021

Newyddion Cymru Ar-Lein : Wales News Online

Newyddion Lleol a Chenedlaethol Cymru – Local and National News for Wales

A COUNCIL house tenant from Carmarthenshire didn’t tell the authority she had moved to Cyprus and carried on claiming Universal Credit and council tax relief, a council report said.

The report said the woman had finally told a council housing officer – after numerous attempts by the officer to contact her – that she was staying with her grandfather and was unsure when she would return.

The case was taken up by council fraud investigators, who said Facebook posts and photos uploaded by the woman – along with an authorised credit report – proved she had actually been living in Cyprus for the previous six months.

The woman’s council tax reduction claims and Universal Credit were both cancelled, and steps taken to rent out the empty council property.

It was one of the cases detailed in an anti-fraud and anti-corruption report, which was presented to the council’s governance and audit committee on July 16.

Another involved a council employee – a school meals clerk – who had failed to bank £4,691.30 as they should have done. A criminal case was opened and the perpetrator was found guilty and ordered to repay the money and carry out 100 hours of community service. The person is no longer employed at the council.

The committee was also told how sophisticated checks identified fraudulent claims for Covid support grants in 2020-21, preventing £105,000 being wrongly paid out.

“Prior to payments being made we can run matches on computers – that has proved very effective in deterring and preventing fraud this year,” said Helen Pugh, the council’s head of revenues and financial compliance.

There were 10 investigations of staff in 2020-21, relating to fraud by false representation, failure to disclose information or abuse of position.

Ms Pugh cited an instance of an employee claiming costs for a course when they weren’t on it.

She also said that Covid had affected surveillance and face-to-face investigations.

Cllr Bill Thomas wanted to know more about the four instances of money laundering mentioned in the report.

Ms Pugh said she would look into it and get back to him – and the committee noted the contents of the report.

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