FOI Disclosure Log

Customer Request Details

14 April 2021

From a previous FOI request you provided the following information

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?

3

 

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"). 

 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.

 3 x £10,000 outstanding

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").

All 3 relate to claims where the property was subsequently found to be unoccupied

 

From this data can you please expand and inform me

Please would you be so kind to break down the three payments in terms of the names of the government grants they were paid in relation to, along with what day they were paid out (DD/MM/YYYY).
Please can you also tell me what day they were realised to be fraudulent (DD/MM/YYYY).
Is it possible to also tell me if police are in the process of tracking down the fraudsters? Could you please expand on what sort of property fraud this was (i.e. did each lie and say they lived in another premises to claim the grant, were the three applicants linked to one another, could it be described as "organised fraud"?).
Could you also please confirm whether or not it is accurate to say the total worth of the 3 overpayments came to £30,000, of which £0 has been recovered as of yet. 



East Herts Council Response

13 May 2021

Further to your request for Information it is not possible to provide all the information you requested.

Some information would be covered by exemption 31

Section 31 of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOIA) (‘Law enforcement’) provides that information held by a public authority is exempt if its disclosure would or would be likely to prejudice the exercise of a public authority of its functions including “the purpose of ascertaining whether circumstances which would justify regulatory action in pursuance of any enactment exist or may arise” (s.31(2)(c)).

This is a qualified exemption so a public interest test has been performed.

Whie there is public interest in transparency in government and examining the way councils deal with fraudulent claims we feel that the wider public interest in protecting the public purse outweighs this as a criminal element may be able to use this information to aid them in evading detection of fraud and that reveling details of current cases or the progress of any investigations runs the risk of tipping off those involved in criminal activity and prejudicing ongoing investigations

Please would you be so kind to break down the three payments in terms of the names of the government grants they were paid in relation to, along with what day they were paid out (DD/MM/YYYY).May 2020
Please can you also tell me what day they were realised to be fraudulent 

Exact dates not held all were for the smalll business cv19 grant


Is it possible to also tell me if police are in the process of tracking down the fraudsters?

Not able to share details as doing this may provide information to fraudsters  to avoid detection

Could you please expand on what sort of property fraud this was (i.e. did each lie and say they lived in another premises to claim the grant, were the three applicants linked to one another, could it be described as "organised fraud"?). As above


Could you also please confirm whether or not it is accurate to say the total worth of the 3 overpayments came to £30,000, of which £0 has been recovered as of yet. You can treat this as a new request.

As above

 

In accordance with the Freedom of Information Act 2000 this document acts as a notification of the Information that can be released and also under Section 17 of the Act a Refusal Notice to that Information that cannot be released.

If you have any queries or complaint about the processing of your request please do not hesitate to contact me.

Further Information and Guidance can be obtained from the Information Commissioner at:

Information Commissioners Office
Wycliffe House
Water Lane
Wilmslow
Cheshire
SK9 5AF

Telephone: 0303 123 1113 

www.information commissioner.gov.uk

It is important that you include the above FOI reference number on all correspondence related to this request.

 

Thank you for your request.



Customer

13 May 2021

Dear [email protected],
I am writing in connection to my request re Covid grants.
I asked if you could please confirm whether or not it is accurate to say the total worth of the 3 overpayments came to £30,000, of which £0 has been recovered as of yet. This is a simple clarification of information so I am left scratching my head at how this could be exempted under S31. Could you please be so kind to answer the question so I can be accurate in my reporting.
Best,
*****

-----Original Message-----

Further to your request for Information it is not possible to provide all
the information you requested.

Some information would be covered by exemption 31

Section 31 of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOIA) (‘Law
enforcement’) provides that information held by a public authority is
exempt if its disclosure would or would be likely to prejudice the
exercise of a public authority of its functions including “the purpose of
ascertaining whether circumstances which would justify regulatory action
in pursuance of any enactment exist or may arise” (s.31(2)(c)).

This is a qualified exemption so a public interest test has been
performed.

Whie there is public interest in transparency in government and examining
the way councils deal with fraudulent claims we feel that the wider public
interest in protecting the public purse outweighs this as a criminal
element may be able to use this information to aid them in evading
detection of fraud and that reveling details of current cases or the
progress of any investigations runs the risk of tipping off those involved
in criminal activity and prejudicing ongoing investigations

Please would you be so kind to break down the three payments in terms of
the names of the government grants they were paid in relation to, along
with what day they were paid out (DD/MM/YYYY).May 2020
Please can you also tell me what day they were realised to be fraudulent 

Exact dates not held all were for the smalll business cv19 grant

Is it possible to also tell me if police are in the process of tracking
down the fraudsters?

Not able to share details as doing this may provide information to
fraudsters  to avoid detection

Could you please expand on what sort of property fraud this was (i.e. did
each lie and say they lived in another premises to claim the grant, were
the three applicants linked to one another, could it be described as
"organised fraud"?). As above

Could you also please confirm whether or not it is accurate to say the
total worth of the 3 overpayments came to £30,000, of which £0 has been
recovered as of yet. You can treat this as a new request.

As above

 

In accordance with the Freedom of Information Act 2000 this document acts
as a notification of the Information that can be released and also under
Section 17 of the Act a Refusal Notice to that Information that cannot be
released.

If you have any queries or complaint about the processing of your request
please do not hesitate to contact me.

Further Information and Guidance can be obtained from the Information
Commissioner at:

Information Commissioners Office
Wycliffe House
Water Lane
Wilmslow
Cheshire
SK9 5AF

Telephone: 0303 123 1113 

[1]www.information commissioner.gov.uk

It is important that you include the above FOI reference number on all
correspondence related to this request.

 

Thank you for your request.

Information Management Team
East Herts Council
www.eastherts.gov.uk
Telephone: +44 (0)1279 655261
Wallfields, Pegs Lane, Hertford, SG13 8EQ.

*Please note: Information released under the Freedom of Information Act
may also be published on our website, along with details of the initial
request.

References

Visible links
1. http://www.information/

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*****

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