A NEW fraud team set up at Southend Council already have almost 100 cases to investigate after just three months.

Cases include parents faking details on school applications to get their children into specific schools, offences by council officers as well as council tax and disabled blue badge fraud.

The new team has taken on 96 teams since October after the council ended its partnership with Thurrock Council.

Out of the 96 cases a total of 45 have been concluded and 29 are active.

There are 16 cases relating to parking permit or blue badge fraud and 24 involving council tax or business rate cases.

There are two cyber crime investigations, two involving fraudulent school applications involving “early years cases” and two involving staff.

Southend Council refused to provide more specific details.

There are also 33 housing cases involving illegally subletting properties or right to buy frauds as well as four cases on money laundering.

Councillor Ian Gilbert, Labour leader of the council, said: “The changes made in October 2019 resulted in the council providing its own in-house counter fraud team after five years working with Thurrock Council.

“This newly formed team gives us greater autonomy over the direction of the service to ensure it meets the needs of the council and of course, the local tax payer.

“Identifying and tackling fraud is an important role for any large organisation, and our dedicated team is in place to investigate allegations of fraudulent behaviour against the council and, where appropriate, build cases against those committing such frauds. All 96 referrals received and investigations undertaken are in respect of issues to do with Southend Council and its companies, including two employee investigations being undertaken that are both in respect of council employees, but we cannot provide any further information in respect of these cases at this time.”