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Kent Intelligence Network wins award for identifying small business rate relief fraud cases

A specialist group cracking down on fraudulent claims for small business rates relief across the county has won a national award.

The Kent Intelligence Network (KIN) was named 'best initiative for combatting fraud' at the Alarm Risk Awards conference in Manchester.

KIN is a countywide partnership between all of our district and borough councils, as well as Kent County Council and Medway Council.

Rebecca Cox and Debbie Dansey (investigators from Ashford BC representing KIN) receiving the award (15269420)
Rebecca Cox and Debbie Dansey (investigators from Ashford BC representing KIN) receiving the award (15269420)

It uses the HUB system produced by Destin Solutions to help councils identify fraud and erroneous claims and recover lost revenue.

A central portal pools together all business ratepayer data published individually by each authority and is the first solution of its kind to consolidate all business rates data in this way, using transparency of government data to help boost revenues.

So far it has resulted in the rebilling of £456,697 due to incorrect or fraudulent SBRR claims.

With a share of business rates now going to local authorities, ensuring firms pay the correct amount is now more vital than ever
With a share of business rates now going to local authorities, ensuring firms pay the correct amount is now more vital than ever

Recent figures reported business rates accounted for the largest growing area of fraud in local government with figures more than doubling from £4.3million in 2016/17 up to £10.4m in 2017/18.

This, coupled with the revised deadline of all authorities being expected to retain 75% of the business rates they collect by 2020, means it is now more important than ever for councils to look at how they can maximise collections in this area and root out the cause of fraud and error.

A number of businesses across England claim SBRR on the basis they either only use one property or have a rateable value of less than £15,000. The KIN system aims to verify that information.

Kent County Council is one of the county's local government authorities involved in the project
Kent County Council is one of the county's local government authorities involved in the project

Historically it has been difficult to identify those businesses operating from multiple properties spread across the country because local authorities do not have ready access to each other’s data. Destin Solutions’ central database pools together all ratepayer data published individually by each local authority and stores it centrally with easy access through a securely hosted business intelligence portal.

Nick Scott, operations manager at KIN, said: “Before we started to use HUB, applications for SBRR were taken at face value.

“Kent councils had no mechanisms in place to carry out checks to confirm the application met the rates relief qualifying criteria so consequently, awards were made purely on the basis of the circumstances declared. With the introduction of HUB, the KIN now has the ability to validate all rates relief awards across the whole of Kent.

The KIN software has allowed it to track fraudulent claims for small business rate relief
The KIN software has allowed it to track fraudulent claims for small business rate relief

“The majority of ratepayers claim relief correctly, but HUB has shown that there are a minority who are gaining a financial advantage by not declaring their true circumstances. HUB highlights cases where rates relief may not be appropriate, resulting in further investigation and either confirmation or withdrawal of the relief.”

Read more: For the latest business news for Kent

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