To ensure that the councils money and services in the housing benefit schemes are safe and secure in ensuring that the goals and objectives of the housing benefits are achieved. The anti fraud service system ensures that it applies both the civil and criminal powers it has in its presence to ensure that those who commit fraud are brought to justice (Butcher 2003). The anti-fraud service will work towards ensuring that the policies in place and the procedures being followed are implemented adequately to make sure that fraud and corruption is detected and prevented both internal and externally by placing confidence in the benefit and service systems. In addition, the service ensures timely and effective utilization of available procedures to ensure that fraud is prevented and all possible loopholes are identified and sealed. Jones (2004) says that the anti-fraud service also tries to deter, prevent and detect any sinister activity and a number of activities that may be considered irregular and suspicious.
In addition to this, the service unit expects to take number of measures to ensure that benefit fraud is tackled and regulated (Balchin & Rhoden 2007). Some of the measures expected to be taken include employing a dedicated workforce that will carryout investigations against fraud suspects. The unit will publish a number of sanctions that states clearly the penalties to be implicated on fraud suspects. The anti-fraud service is geared towards coming up with a housing and council tax system that is transparent to all and which people can not alter for selfish and personal gains. The antifraud service operates with an assumption that for various goals and objectives set by councils to be achieved, it is mandatory that the funds for the public are safe guarded and to ensure that anyone trying to obtain benefits by fraud means are brought to justice. The service does this by encouraging the taking up of benefits and ensuring that enough is provided to those who are dire need (Great Britain: Parliament: House of Commons: Committee of Public Account, 2010).
Criteria for the Receipt of Housing Benefit
It is proven that cases where people are trying to get benefits that they are not entitled to are very rampant (Great Britain: National audit office 2008). Therefore, to prevent this, various stringent measures have been taken to ensure that only the right individuals are able to claim for this compensation. The claimant will be offered an application form of which is to be filled. Annually, this housing benefit form of application will be reviewed to make sure that comprehensible language had been used that will make sure that the applicant answers the questions correctly and any false information shall lead to prosecution.
Housing Benefits Scheme for Councils and Private Tenants
Housing benefit is present so as to offer assistance to those in thee low income brackets and the unemployed. Each person receiving house benefits will do so in relation to the rent expected to be paid to his landlord. In addition the house benefits rely on the persons financial and household circumstances. It should be noted that for one to be offered housing allowance, you must claim for it and there are a number of conditions that must be satisfied before becoming eligible for the allowance.
Required Skills of Team Members of an Anti-Fraud Housing Benefit Team
An individual who deliberate holds important information that can be used by a certain organization to make viable decisions is a crime. For instance, holding essential information which affects the benefits claim is theft. It should be noted that these benefits and allowances from the government are intended for the few rightfully need individuals and not to the many greedy people who will go to all ends to get the benefits. That is why when anti-fraud team members are geared towards ensuring that the vice of stealing from the government is brought to a stop. The anti-fraud team is a professionally trained team made up of professionally trained investigators who posses the power to carryout investigative procedures especially among those who are suspected of stealing from the housing benefit. As noted by Butcher (2003), the investigative team that form the anti-fraud workforce undergoes interviews and training that is related to that of the police officers.
The anti-fraud team is given training that is geared towards ensuring that they are competent in matters associated to fraud awareness. In addition, all the staff shall be made aware of the various arising issues in fraud and this are associated with the awareness of fraud as a social evil and its frameworks. According to Balchin & Rhoden (2007) all the investigators in anti-fraud unit are fully accredited and qualified with professionalism in investigations (PINS).
The Legal Sanctions That Are Applied When Fraud Has Been Successfully Investigated In Housing Benefit
After an investigation has been successfully investigated, the culprits must be brought to justice. The penalties accorded to those found guilty of benefit fraud are decided by the courts of laws and the penalties will vary in relation to the magnitude and size of the crime committed and how severe it is. Taking an example of an individual found guilty of theft under the theft Act of 1968 section 15 is liable of being sentenced to a fine that is unlimited and utmost fifteen years jail sentence.
It shall be proven that in the recent years, a number of fraudsters have been found guilty and they have been sentenced to around fifteen months in prison and curfew orders have been imposed on others (Jones 2004).These prosecutions can be taken by the council itself or in partnership with The Department of Works and Pensions Solicitors Office Together With the Crown Prosecution Service.
Channels Available To Promote Good Conduct and Financial Awareness/Proprietary in Housing Benefit
It is indisputable that the public or any member whatsoever shall not be able to stand any misappropriation of public funds by any person in the office. This therefore implies that the anti-fraud service will be sterling towards ensuring that the interests of the public are safe guarded by encouraging all the members of the public to report anything they may consider suspicious. The public through the services is made aware of the existing fraud reporting mechanisms that can be used to report these treacherous activities (Great Britain: National audit office 2008). There are hotlines and several on line reports that can be submitted to the anti-fraud unit to report anything that may be suspicious.
The members conduct is governed and defined by the national code of conduct and each member is expected to abide by the stated rules and regulations during his practice as an officer of the benefit especially by trying to avoid any occasion that may appear as improper in the eyes of the public.
Working Codes of Conduct and Reporting Procedures to Promote Confidence in Public Places
It is logical that all professions are guided by a code of conduct. The ode of conduct ensures that each person works and acts within his or her jurisdiction and avoids being in the wrong side of the law or rules. A staff anywhere must portray behaviors that are acceptable both to the society and the entity. Through this, the organization can be able to gain the confidence of the society and trust. Of more essence, those people working in the public sector are expected to carryout their duties efficiently with integrity, fairness and without any impartiality (Butcher 2003).
The code of conduct aims at establishing an understanding that is common in relation to the standards that are attached to various behaviors of the staff. Common codes of conducts that are found in public institutions tend to talk on responsibilities, the legal frameworks and the purpose of the worker. The responsibility code of conduct ties all those who are working within the firm and holding them responsible for all their actions. The benefits officers should always report to the manager in charge in relation to any interests they may be having towards any property let to some of their claimants this is whether the tenants are claiming any benefit or no benefit.
The Content and Application of the Whistle Blowing Policy
Whistle blowing policy has been termed to as a confidential reporting code. Whistle blowing tends to take place when information is passed to a regulator or the employer by an employee. In our case, the whistle blowing may relate to fraud and corruption within the work place. Whistle blowing is very significant as it helps employees to raise information that they deem important and serious to the management instead of blowing this whistle to those in the outside of the management arena (Jones 2004). Often, the employees will be the first to note that something has gone wrong within the workplace of council and more than often they never want to speak since they feel that doing so will be victimizing or being disloyal to their colleagues at work.
The whistle blowing policy is applicable to all the employees and it aims at providing avenues to them regarding how they can be able to raise their concerns confidently and get the necessarily actions pertaining to the actions that might have been taken (Great Britain: Parliament: House of Commons: Committee of Public Account, 2010). In addition, the policy provides a reassurance that the whistle blower shall be protected from any possible victimization or reprisals especially after knowing that the disclosure made is in good faith. A policy that is clear helps raise a number of issues that are in public interest.
Types of Housing Benefit Fraud Using Correct Definitions and Terminology
Working and claiming: This is a form of fraud that involves a case where the claimants who are eligible for the receipt of the house benefits such as job seekers allowance for those searching for jobs and income support benefits yet these people are having jobs and they are working.
Non disclosure of partner: The partners in this case can be man and wife, civil couples or people of the same sex who are living in the same house with some mutual understanding. This form of fraud involves a situation where a claimant receives house benefit without disclosing the fact that thy have partners with whom they live with because if this is said, then they would not be eligible to this benefit.
Non declaration of sub tenants or non dependants: this form of fraud involves cases where claimants do not reveal the information about the other adults who might be living in the same property as them. This occurs in order to increase or continue receiving the benefits that they are entitled to (Balchin & Rhoden 2007).
Failing to declare change in address or false address: Occurs when a claimant claims benefit by using a falsified address of a place where they are not living in. such forms of fraud activities are common among the tenants and the landlords. Seemingly, it can take place when the claimants move and do not inform the respective authority.
Fictitious tenancies: This is a form of tenancy that is formed or created amongst friends and family members so as obtain benefits which they should not be obtaining in the first place. In such instances, the property being claimed as being rented may not have been rented in the first place, it may be theirs and they use it to make false claims (Butcher 2003).
Landlord fraud: Occurs when the landlord keeps on receiving benefits despite knowing that the tenants have already vacated their premises.