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COUNCILS TO GET EXTRA POWERS TO TACKLE FRAUD

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Organised fraud against local authorities is most prevalent in the areas of housing benefit and student grant award...
Organised fraud against local authorities is most prevalent in the areas of housing benefit and student grant awards, Audit Commission controller Andrew Foster told BBC Radio Four's Today programme this morning.

'There is some evidence of there being gangs, with aliases and bogus addresses being passed around and that's very much where we're targeting', Mr Foster said.

Most councils are taking fraud very seriously, he said.

But social security minister Oliver Heald told Today some local authorities were more effective than others in tackling fraud.

The fraud inspectorate which will be set up by the new government bill, published tomorrow 'will be able to give directions to councils about how they tackle it', Mr Heald said.

The bill will also give councils extra powers, similar to those held by Benefits Agency inspectors, allowing them for example to look at landlord's records.

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