Sheffield Council trying to recover £300,000 in Covid-19 grant fraud

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The local authority is still working to recover around £300,000 of Covid-19 grant fraud.

It was revealed during an audit and standards committee meeting when councillor Angela Argenzio asked Linda Hunter, senior finance manager, what the outstanding amount of money that should not have been given out was.

In reply, Ms Hunter said on January the 1st there was £300,000 outstanding and almost all of it was recovered but there were grant payments since.

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She said: “They have identified since then another set of over-payments totally roughly around £300,000 again. So it’s gone back up but they are trying to recover that again. So it’s gone sort of up and down.”

Sheffield Town HallSheffield Town Hall
Sheffield Town Hall

In a report ahead of the meeting, officers said the level of fraud likely increased over the past year due to the large volume of grants.

They also said the council was awarded a significant number of grants by the government throughout the pandemic but the normal checks and balances were streamlined due to the necessity for grants to be handed out quickly to help those struggling.

According to the National Fraud Authority, public sector fraud costs taxpayers around £20.3 billion per year and research by Policy Exchange found fraud and error during Covid-19 will cost the government around £4.6 billion.

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The level of fraud reported in Local Government in 2019 was approximately £253 million. This is down from £302m in the previous year whilst the average value per case has remained the same at £3,600. Figures for 2020 have not yet been made available.