LOCAL GOVERNMENT UNDER FIRE FOR CONTINUING TO PAY FOR DECEASED RESIDENTS

Last week it was reported that following an audit Suffolk County Council was found to have paid £122,000 to residential care providers for people that had passed away and £8,500 worth of pension over-payments to deceased pensioners. Additionally, 3,671 concessionary travel passes and 289 blue badges were still in use despite the rightful owners having died. This resulted in the council having to devote precious resource to investigate and recoup the payments.

In its defence the council said: “In an organisation of this size, with a budget of £498 million, errors will occur from time to time. It added that the “size and complexity of the council meant some irregularities are inevitable and therefore a number of investigations were needed.”

Our research shows that this is not a stand-alone incident and the same is true for Councils across the UK. Whilst the majority of payments are likely to be in error, statistically some will also be a result of fraud. Deceased identity fraud is now one of the fastest growing types of crime and is causing issues for many businesses, not just public sector organisations.

However, simple solutions such as screening against deceased fraud prevention products such as Halo can quickly and easily identify erroneous or fraudulent payments and active blue badges or concessionary travel passes that should in fact be cancelled. Using deceased data in this manner will significantly reduce such errors and save councils both time and money.