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Fraud and Risk Focus Blog

How can Cifas help Local Authorities screen grant applications?

5 January 2021

Sharing Local Authority fraud risk data

In response to the economic impacts of the pandemic, Councils across the UK are stepping up to support businesses in their local area. Following the announcement on Monday 4 January 2021 of a new national lockdown, the Government has outlined additional economic support packages to impacted businesses, promising the following:

  • One-off top up grants for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses worth up to £9,000 per property;
  • £594m discretionary fund available to support other impacted businesses.

The cash is to be provided on a per-property basis to support businesses through the latest restrictions, and is expected to benefit over 600,000 business properties, worth £4bn in total across all nations of the UK.

One-off top up grants

The one-off top-ups will be granted to closed businesses as follows:

  • £4,000 for businesses with a rateable value of £15,000 or under
  • £6,000 for businesses with a rateable value between £15,000 and £51,000
  • £9,000 for businesses with a rateable value of over £51,000

Discretionary fund

In addition to the funding already available for businesses impacted by the pandemic, a further £594m is also being made available for Local Authorities to support businesses not eligible for the grants that might be affected by the restrictions. In order to apply for funds, eligible businesses must apply to their Local Authority.

It is vital Local Authorities are ensuring funds are allocated to those in genuine need of assistance, while not delaying the payment process - a similar scenario to the economic support packages provided during the first lockdown in 2020. During this time, Cifas provided support to 31 new Councils in addition to the 13 Local Authorities which were already members of Cifas. By these Local Authorities screening their applications against the National Fraud Database, the UK’s largest cross-sector fraud risk database, high risk applications could be quickly highlighted for further investigation.

A number of these Local Authorities who screened their applications against the National Fraud Database in the first lockdown are now in the process of joining Cifas as full members in order to continue to benefit from the sharing of fraud risk data and intelligence available to them.

Cifas is once again offering to assist in the national effort to combat fraud by allowing any UK Local Authority to check new applications against the National Fraud Database by joining as full members. This will enable them to:

  • Ensure those people who need funds get them quickly;
  • Reduce workloads in processing applications;
  • Spot and prevent potential fraud more easily; and
  • Reduce the work needed to be carried out on ‘high risk’ cases identified as fraud after the pandemic has lifted.

In order to take advantage of this service, Local Authorities can contact us at newmembers@cifas.org.uk. Once the documentation has been signed and processing notices are in place, Local Authorities can begin using the service straight away.

Update: Thursday 8 April 2021

Cifas are offering all Local Authorities in the UK a six month Cifas membership which will allow them to check applications against our National Fraud Database, which is the largest fraud risk database in the UK. Applicants for Restart Grants can be screened both prior to the grant being distributed as well as post-payment to help identify potential fraud risks.

If you are interested in finding out more about how Cifas can help protect your Local Authority, contact us at newmembers@cifas.org.uk and one of the team will be in touch.

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