Councils sign up and reap the rewards of new national Business Rates Relief fraud solution

Following its launch back in February this year, HUB the solution which tackles fraud and error in small business rates relief (SBRR) awards, has achieved rapid adoption with 28 Authorities already signed up to the solution.

Savings being achieved by Authorities
Two Councils working in partnership have collectively identified 15 cases already where relief has been removed, resulting in a total saving of over £100,000 in lost revenue. Further cases are still being reviewed for follow up and in other Authorities, further action is being considered including prosecutions in the more serious cases found.

HUB, developed by Destin Solutions, consolidates English Authorities’ business ratepayer data into one single portal, tracking the activities of businesses across multiple regions and publishes their trading location and rateable value. Relief is typically awarded on the basis that a business only uses one property or has a rateable value of less than £15,000 and HUB is used as a means to verify to Authorities that the information supplied by business claimants is correct.

Nationwide ‘Find a Ratepayer’ tool
In the latest features update HUB is also now being used to help process and verify new small business rates relief applications as they come through, with a nationwide ‘Find a Ratepayer’ function to help ensure businesses meet the required criteria. In another planned enhancement, alerts will be issued to Councils when a new SBRR match is found. Business rates data is being updated in HUB all the time and if a company name is added which already exists elsewhere and is in receipt of relief this will be proactively flagged with the appropriate Authority for further investigation. Plans are also underway to manage cases and record outcomes within HUB so that customers have a performance monitoring and report mechanism in place to track their return on investment more effectively.

Director at Destin Solutions, Duncan Baxter goes onto comment “the scale of error and fraud we are seeing from just the Authorities who have signed up to HUB, suggest our earlier estimates of between £19 to £25 million of potential fraud across England may well be exceeded. The ability for Authorities to look at business ratepayer data on a national scale rather than just at a regional level has been a key factor in rooting out these false claims and it’s my belief that this level of data sharing and collaboration truly is the best approach.”

Return on Investment for Authorities
Since its launch nearly 6 months ago HUB has achieved rapid market adoption and feedback from customers on the results being achieved have been very positive. Preston City Council reported achieving a return on investment of nearly 45 times the cost of the system to implement and South Ribble Council noted a return of investment of 23 times the cost.

Helping avoid costly court proceedings
HUB has also been used by Greenhalgh Kerr a legal firm representing Braintree Council to stop costly court proceedings on a disputed unpaid liability order. Richard Kerr, Partner at Greenhalgh Kerr commented “HUB enabled us to quickly and easily identify what other business interests and trading locations the ratepayer had. It would have required a significant amount of time and resource to get this data through other means and the costs involved may well have outweighed the benefits of pursuing the query on the liability order.”

With ongoing development and a number of discussions being carried out with numerous other Authorities, take-up of the HUB is expected to at least double again over the next 3 months.

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