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Grant Fraud

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Hello,
I hope whoever is reading this is keeping well.
My name is Yohannes Lowe. This is a request for information under the Freedom of Information Act 2000.
Please could you breakdown the following information from 1 March 2020 to 28 February 2021.
Please could the information be broken down concisely and as I have requested- in the most simple language/terms possible.
Q1) How many overpayments did your council identify for claims made as part of Covid-related government grant schemes it administered (for example, but not limited to: small business rates grant scheme; retail, hospital and leisure grant scheme) over the stated period?
1a) If such overpayments did occur, please could you tell me the total frequency of/ reasons for /such overpayment (for example, but not limited to: 'payment error', 'ineligible claim', 'fraudulent claim'). 
1aa) For each of these overpayments please can you state: the cost to the council of the overpayment amount (in £); how much of its total has been recovered (in £) as of the current date, and how much money (in £) is outstanding as of the current date.
So, for instance, taking the 'fraudulent claim' category as an example, your council may have made overpayments worth £300,000 for 30 fraudulent claims, recovered £25,000 for 2 of them as of the current date, meaning there is £275,000 outstanding for 28.  
1b) In relation to the identified fraudulent claims, please can you break this information down in terms of what kind of fraud occurred (for example, but not limited to: 'organised fraud').
If you feel that a substantive response to this request is not possible within a reasonable time frame, or the request is too broad, I would be grateful if you could please contact me by email ([email address]) and provide assistance as to how I could refine the request.
Kind Regards,
Yohannes Lowe

Buckinghamshire Council

Dear Yohannes Lowe

 

Thank you for your information request received on 12 March 2021.

 

We can confirm receipt of your request for information and will handle it
under the most appropriate legislation.  Your case reference number is FOI
22774

 

You can expect to receive a response by 13 April 2021.

 

The Council will be in touch if we need any further information.

 

Yours sincerely,

Information Management Team

Buckinghamshire Council

[1][Buckinghamshire Council request email]

[2]Stay Home

DISCLAIMER FOR BUCKINGHAMSHIRE COUNCIL

Any views expressed in this email are those of the individual sender and
are not necessarily those of Buckinghamshire Council unless explicitly
stated.

This email and any attachments may contain confidential or privileged
information and is intended solely for the use of the individual or entity
to whom it is addressed. Any confidential, sensitive or protectively
marked material must be handled accordingly.

If you are not the intended recipient you must not disclose, distribute,
copy, print or rely on any of the information contained in the email or
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this email in error please notify the sender immediately and note that
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Buckinghamshire Council may monitor the contents of emails sent and
received via its network for the purposes of ensuring compliance with
relevant legislation and the Council’s policies and procedures. All such
monitoring will take place in accordance with relevant legislation
including privacy and data protection legislation. For details of how
Buckinghamshire Council uses personal information please see the Council’s
website.

Buckinghamshire Council has scanned this email and attachments for viruses
but does not accept any responsibilities for viruses once this email has
been transmitted. You should therefore carry out your own anti-virus
checks before opening any documents.

References

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1. mailto:[Buckinghamshire Council request email]

Freedom of Information, Buckinghamshire Council

 

Dear Yohannes Lowe

 
FOI 22774

Thank you for your request for information regarding Grant overpayments.

 

This request has been handled under the Freedom of Information Act 2000.

 

We can confirm that Buckinghamshire Council does hold information falling
within the description specified in your request.

 

Please refer to the information below.

Q1) How many overpayments did your council identify for claims made as
part of Covid-related government grant schemes it administered (for
example, but not limited to: small business rates grant scheme; retail,
hospital and leisure grant scheme) over the stated period? 6

 

1a) If such overpayments did occur, please could you tell me the total
frequency of/ reasons for /such overpayment (for example, but not limited
to: 'payment error', 'ineligible claim', 'fraudulent claim').
These payments were identified as potentially fraudulent during
post-payment assurance checks.

 

1aa) For each of these overpayments please can you state: the cost to the
council of the overpayment amount (in £); how much of its total has been
recovered (in £) as of the current date, and how much money (in £) is
outstanding as of the current date.
£75,000 for 6 fraudulent claims, £0 recovered to date as prosecutions are
pending.

 

1b) In relation to the identified fraudulent claims, please can you break
this information down in terms of what kind of fraud occurred (for
example, but not limited to: 'organised fraud').
False information provided on application form and businesses not
eligible.

Please note, to contextualise our response, we have paid 15,189 grants,
totalling £103,615,850.

If you are unhappy with the service you have received in relation to your
request and wish to make a complaint or request a review of our decision,
you can contact us at [1][Buckinghamshire Council request email] or by
writing to us at

Information Governance
Buckinghamshire Council
The Gateway
Gatehouse Road
Aylesbury
HP19 8FF

 

If you are not content with the outcome of your complaint, you may apply
directly to the Information Commissioner for a decision.

 

Generally, the ICO cannot make a decision unless you have exhausted the
internal review procedure provided by Buckinghamshire Council. 

 

You can contact the ICO via their website
[2]https://ico.org.uk/make-a-complaint/ or by writing to them at:

Information Commissioner's Office
Wycliffe House
Water Lane
Wilmslow
Cheshire

SK9 5AF 

Alternatively, you can phone them on 0303 123 1113.

 

With kind regards

 

The Freedom of Information Team

[3][Buckinghamshire Council request email]

 

Buckinghamshire Council
New County Offices

Walton Street

Aylesbury

Bucks
HP20 1UA

 

 

 

 

 

[4]A Little Longer

DISCLAIMER FOR BUCKINGHAMSHIRE COUNCIL

Any views expressed in this email are those of the individual sender and
are not necessarily those of Buckinghamshire Council unless explicitly
stated.

This email and any attachments may contain confidential or privileged
information and is intended solely for the use of the individual or entity
to whom it is addressed. Any confidential, sensitive or protectively
marked material must be handled accordingly.

If you are not the intended recipient you must not disclose, distribute,
copy, print or rely on any of the information contained in the email or
attachments, and all copies must be deleted immediately. If you do receive
this email in error please notify the sender immediately and note that
confidentiality or privilege is not waived or lost. 

Buckinghamshire Council may monitor the contents of emails sent and
received via its network for the purposes of ensuring compliance with
relevant legislation and the Council’s policies and procedures. All such
monitoring will take place in accordance with relevant legislation
including privacy and data protection legislation. For details of how
Buckinghamshire Council uses personal information please see the Council’s
website.

Buckinghamshire Council has scanned this email and attachments for viruses
but does not accept any responsibilities for viruses once this email has
been transmitted. You should therefore carry out your own anti-virus
checks before opening any documents.

References

Visible links
1. mailto:[Buckinghamshire Council request email]
2. https://ico.org.uk/make-a-complaint/
3. mailto:[Buckinghamshire Council request email]

Hello Information Management Team,
Thanks very much for your response to my FOI Request regarding Covid grants (22774).
It is greatly appreciated. Would you please be so kind to tell me the months over which all of these overpayments were paid, and the government grants they were paid in relation to.
Can you please also explain what you mean by "false information provided" (i.e. what type of information, was this organised fraud etc) and by "businesses not eligible". How many of the 6 fraudulent overpayments related to ineligible businesses?
You can, of course, treat this as a new request if you so wish.
Best,
Yohannes

Buckinghamshire Council

 

 

 

 

Dear Yohannes Lowe

 

Thank you for your information request received on 16 April 2021.

 

We can confirm receipt of your request for information and will handle it
under the most appropriate legislation.  

Your case reference number is FOI 24119

 

You can expect to receive a response by 17 May 2021.

 

The Council will be in touch if we need any further information.

 

Yours sincerely,

Information Management Team

Buckinghamshire Council

[1][Buckinghamshire Council request email]

[2]A Little Longer

DISCLAIMER FOR BUCKINGHAMSHIRE COUNCIL

Any views expressed in this email are those of the individual sender and
are not necessarily those of Buckinghamshire Council unless explicitly
stated.

This email and any attachments may contain confidential or privileged
information and is intended solely for the use of the individual or entity
to whom it is addressed. Any confidential, sensitive or protectively
marked material must be handled accordingly.

If you are not the intended recipient you must not disclose, distribute,
copy, print or rely on any of the information contained in the email or
attachments, and all copies must be deleted immediately. If you do receive
this email in error please notify the sender immediately and note that
confidentiality or privilege is not waived or lost. 

Buckinghamshire Council may monitor the contents of emails sent and
received via its network for the purposes of ensuring compliance with
relevant legislation and the Council’s policies and procedures. All such
monitoring will take place in accordance with relevant legislation
including privacy and data protection legislation. For details of how
Buckinghamshire Council uses personal information please see the Council’s
website.

Buckinghamshire Council has scanned this email and attachments for viruses
but does not accept any responsibilities for viruses once this email has
been transmitted. You should therefore carry out your own anti-virus
checks before opening any documents.

References

Visible links
1. mailto:[Buckinghamshire Council request email]

Buckinghamshire Council

Dear Yohannes Lowe

 

Thank you for your request for information received on 20 April 2021
concerning Grant overpayments - follow up request.

 

This request has been handled under the Freedom of Information Act 2000. 
I can confirm that Buckinghamshire Council does hold information falling
within the description specified in your request.  Please find the
relevant details:

Would you please be so kind to tell me the months over which all of these
overpayments were paid, and the government grants they were paid in
relation to.

The six overpayments were paid from April 2020 to September 2020 and
related to five Small Business Grant payments (£50k) and one Retail,
Hospitality & Leisure Grant (£25k).

Can you please also explain what you mean by "false information provided"
(i.e. what type of information, was this organised fraud etc) and by
"businesses not eligible". How many of the 6 fraudulent overpayments
related to ineligible businesses?

False information included items such as invalid lease agreements, it was
not organised fraud as far as we have established. Businesses not eligible
refers to the criteria that applicants needed to meet to be eligible for a
grant, and all six overpayments related to ineligible businesses.

 

If you have any queries about this letter, please contact me. Please
remember to quote the reference number provided in the subject line of
this email in any future communications.

 

If you are unhappy with the service you have received in relation to your
request and wish to make a complaint or request a review of our decision,
you can contact us at [1][Buckinghamshire Council request email] or by
writing to us at Information Governance, Buckinghamshire Council, The
Gateway, Gatehouse Road, Aylesbury, HP19 8FF.

 

If you are not content with the outcome your complaint, you may apply
directly to the Information Commissioner for a decision. Generally, the
ICO cannot make a decision unless you have exhausted the internal review
procedure provided by Buckinghamshire Council.  You can contact the ICO
via their website [2]https://ico.org.uk/make-a-complaint/ or by writing to
them at Information Commissioner's Office, Wycliffe House, Water Lane,
Wilmslow, Cheshire, SK9 5AF.  Alternatively, you can phone them on 0303
123 1113.

 

Yours sincerely,

Stephanie Wallis

Information and Complaint Case Officer

[3][Buckinghamshire Council request email]

[4]A Little Longer

DISCLAIMER FOR BUCKINGHAMSHIRE COUNCIL

Any views expressed in this email are those of the individual sender and
are not necessarily those of Buckinghamshire Council unless explicitly
stated.

This email and any attachments may contain confidential or privileged
information and is intended solely for the use of the individual or entity
to whom it is addressed. Any confidential, sensitive or protectively
marked material must be handled accordingly.

If you are not the intended recipient you must not disclose, distribute,
copy, print or rely on any of the information contained in the email or
attachments, and all copies must be deleted immediately. If you do receive
this email in error please notify the sender immediately and note that
confidentiality or privilege is not waived or lost. 

Buckinghamshire Council may monitor the contents of emails sent and
received via its network for the purposes of ensuring compliance with
relevant legislation and the Council’s policies and procedures. All such
monitoring will take place in accordance with relevant legislation
including privacy and data protection legislation. For details of how
Buckinghamshire Council uses personal information please see the Council’s
website.

Buckinghamshire Council has scanned this email and attachments for viruses
but does not accept any responsibilities for viruses once this email has
been transmitted. You should therefore carry out your own anti-virus
checks before opening any documents.

References

Visible links
1. mailto:[Buckinghamshire Council request email]
2. https://ico.org.uk/make-a-complaint/
3. mailto:[Buckinghamshire Council request email]

Hello,
Thanks very much for your response. Would you be so kind, lastly, to have a quick scan over below and alert me to any inaccuracies. I would hate to make a mistake in my reporting:
17) Buckinghamshire Council
No. of overpayments: 6 (paid from April to September 2020- all related to ineligible businesses)
 - related 5x Small Business Grant payments (£50k); 1x Retail, Hospitality & Leisure Grant (£25k)
Of which fraudulent: 6 (potentially fraudulent during post-payment assurance checks- false information provided on application form and businesses not eligible)
- false information included items such as invalid lease agreements- not organised
Total worth: £75,000 
Left to recover: £75,000
Fraudulent: £75,000; Recovered: £0 Outstanding: £75,000
Caveat: as of 16/04, council has paid 15,189 grants, totalling £103,615,850

Freedom of Information, Buckinghamshire Council

Hello
 
Can you confirm the request the below information relates to? Our response
to the FOI 24119, mentioned in the subject line, is as below;
 
Would you please be so kind to tell me the months over which all of these
overpayments were paid, and the government grants they were paid in
relation to.
The six overpayments were paid from April 2020 to September 2020 and
related to five Small Business Grant payments (£50k) and one Retail,
Hospitality & Leisure Grant (£25k).
 
Can you please also explain what you mean by "false information provided"
(i.e. what type of information, was this organised fraud etc) and by
"businesses not eligible". How many of the 6 fraudulent overpayments
related to ineligible businesses?
False information included items such as invalid lease agreements, it was
not organised fraud as far as we have established. Businesses not eligible
refers to the criteria that applicants needed to meet to be eligible for a
grant, and all six overpayments related to ineligible businesses.
 
 
Many thanks
Amy
 
Amy Roscoe
Freedom of Information Manager
Deputy Chief Executive Directorate
Buckinghamshire Council
 
01296 382394
[Buckinghamshire Council request email]
 
 
 

show quoted sections

Thanks for the reply re my request regarding Covid grants Amy, though you seem to have sent the same information as you have done in a previous response.
Please can you have a quick scan over my summarisation below and alert me to any inaccuracies? I would hate to make a mistake in my reporting:
17) Buckinghamshire Council
No. of overpayments: 6 (paid from April to September 2020- all related to ineligible businesses)
- related 5x Small Business Grant payments (£50k); 1x Retail, Hospitality & Leisure Grant (£25k)
Of which fraudulent: 6 (potentially fraudulent during post-payment assurance checks- false information provided on application form and businesses not eligible)
- false information included items such as invalid lease agreements- not organised
Total worth: £75,000
Left to recover: £75,000
Fraudulent: £75,000; Recovered: £0 Outstanding: £75,000
Caveat: as of 16/04, council has paid 15,189 grants, totalling £103,615,850

Freedom of Information, Buckinghamshire Council

Good morning

Can you please confirm what FOI you have taken the below information from? I presume this is from an earlier response, issued to another request? I provided the response to the FOI 24119, as this is in the subject line of the email you have sent to the Council.

I would like to confirm where the information we are checking has originated from so I can go back and ask the service.

Many thanks
Amy
Freedom of Information Manager
Deputy Chief Executive Directorate
Buckinghamshire Council

01296 382394
[Buckinghamshire Council request email]

show quoted sections

Dear Freedom of Information,
The summarised information was taken from emails containing FOI references 22774 and 24119- I hope this helps

Freedom of Information, Buckinghamshire Council

Dear Yohannes Lowe

 

Thank you for your clarification.  As you have presented the data in a
slightly different way to the way in which we sent our responses to FOIs
24119 and 22774, we have gone back to the relevant department to double
check that it’s definitely correct.

 

We will get back to you as soon as possible.

 

Kind regards

 

Francisca Harpur

Senior Information Request Officer

Deputy Chief Executive Directorate

Buckinghamshire Council

 

01296 585771

[1][Buckinghamshire Council request email]

 

The Gateway, Gatehouse Road, Aylesbury, Bucks, HP19 8FF

 

 

 

 

show quoted sections

Freedom of Information, Buckinghamshire Council

Dear Yohannes Lowe

 

We have checked with the department who provided the original responses. 
We can confirm that you summarisation is correct.

 

Kind regards and sorry for the delay.

 

Francisca Harpur

Senior Information Request Officer

Deputy Chief Executive Directorate

Buckinghamshire Council

 

01296 585771

[1][Buckinghamshire Council request email]

 

The Gateway, Gatehouse Road, Aylesbury, Bucks, HP19 8FF

 

 

 

 

show quoted sections

We don't know whether the most recent response to this request contains information or not – if you are Yohannes Lowe please sign in and let everyone know.