A MAN is set to stand trial after being accused of misusing a Government Covid grant aimed at helping businesses survive the impact of the pandemic.

During the Covid pandemic, the Government distributed more than £98billion across two schemes aimed at helping businesses survive despite a series of lockdowns.

Following an investigation by Southend Council’s counter fraud team, Philip Staples, of Glenmere, Basildon, has been charged with fraud in relation to Covid grants.

Staples will stand trial at Basildon Crown Court on September 9 after being charges with eight counts of fraud by false representation.

He has also facing 12 counts related to the proceeds of criminal offences.

A council spokesperson said: “The Covid pandemic was one of the biggest crises to hit this country for generations, and our city pulled together in an amazing way to support the communities and businesses that needed our help the most.

“Whilst the council cannot comment on ongoing investigations or cases while they are being pursued through the courts, the council’s counter fraud and investigation team will rigorously investigate anyone that used the Covid grant and other supportive grants as an opportunity to profit fraudulently and recover losses where possible.”

Since April 1, 2023, the council’s counter fraud team have dealt with, or are investigating 478 cases, which range from blue badge and council tax and benefit fraud to grant related fraud.

Their work generated a benefit to the council of over £560,000 in 2023/24.

A successful conviction for blue badge fraud resulting in a £60 fine and an order to pay £800 towards the council’s costs, with a projected saving of £575 in parking revenue. The team also saved £5,630 in recovered single person discount and council tax reduction.

The team, which was formed in 2019, has contributed to improvements made to the council’s website to enable easier reporting of fraud online, and South Essex Homes which manages the council’s social housing, now has a webpage to report fraud which mirrors the council’s.