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Caithness News Bulletins March 2006

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Highland Council    
Council Welcome Benefit Fraud Inspections As More Cases Referred For Prosecution
The Highland Council has renewed its commitment to tackling benefit fraud in the wake of two inspections from the Benefit Fraud Inspectorate.

The Council administers 48 million in housing benefits - 7% of its total gross revenue spending - and has a team dedicated to cracking down on fraudulent claims.

Councillor John Matheson, Chairman of the Council's Resources Committee, welcomed the findings of the reports into its arrangements for processing housing benefit claims and also its security arrangements.

He said: "It was useful for the BFI to clarify their specific requirements and we appreciated the constructive manner in which they went about their two inspections. We were pleased in particular that the inspectors recognised some of the good work being done by The Highland Council.

"Work is ongoing to prepare responses and actions plans covering the detailed issues highlighted in their reports. In some cases improvements had already been made in anticipation of the inspectors' findings.

"New claim processing meets the target set by the Department for Work and Pensions and the Council has stepped up its anti-fraud activity with a number of individuals having been referred to the Procurator Fiscal. A high priority is given to prevention and detection of benefit fraud."

The Benefits Fraud Hotline is 0800 854 183.