Local authorities across Devon are joining forces to protect residents and themselves to combat fraud this International Fraud Awareness Week (IFAW), which runs until 21 November.
With the Counter Fraud Services Team at Devon Audit Partnership, local authorities are aiming to raise awareness of what fraud is, as the first step in preventing it from taking place.
Raising awareness of fraud, often referred to as a scam, is more important now than ever. Fraudsters are trying to take advantage of people during the COVID-19 (C19) crisis. They are adopting a C19 camouflage to play on residents’ fears and lack of knowledge, taking advantage of them at this unusual time.
Based on fear and risk during the COVID-19 crisis, the most common examples, reported to action organisations include:
- victim alleged to have breached stay home regulations - scam with text messages from .GOV.UK issuing fines
- free school meals scam - fraudulent messages (text or email) to parents entitled to free school meals
- fraudsters pretending to be from a research group that mimic the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and World Health Organisation (WHO)
- fraudsters providing articles about the virus outbreak with a link to a fake company website where victims are encouraged to click to subscribe to a daily newsletter for further updates
- investment fraud including pension liberation fraud – fraudsters could take the opportunity to create bogus investments in commodities in high demand
West Devon Borough Council’s, Lead Member for Customer First, Cllr Jeff Moody, said: “We are constantly hearing how fraudsters are targeting our vulnerable residents with scams. It is appalling how these people can prey on the unsuspecting, especially in a pandemic where lots of people are experiencing impacts on their finances already.
“Only this week, we have heard about how one of our Horrabridge residents managed to evade being caught out with a Council Tax scam, where the scammers claimed to be from the Council and offering a refund. Always contact the Council for clarification if you are suspicious. Take the time to find out how to protect yourself and your family against fraudsters and what to do if you have unfortunately been caught out.”
Fraudsters understand how many of us think and react as human beings aiming to create a situation which causes an overwhelming and emotional response to a stimulus such as an email or text that increases our stress levels. This triggers our fight or flight responses with normal logical thought is over ridden by the need to take immediate action.
“There is no shame in having been conned by these terrible people. They make their scams very difficult to spot and we have to do everything we can to stop them so we can protect our loved ones.”
Detailed counter fraud advice is available online, including from these trusted sites:
- Citizens Advice
- Trading Standards
- National Cyber Security Centre
- Fraud Advisory Panel
Only use trusted sites and or those displaying that they are secure - site address starts with “https” or displays a padlock image next to the site address.
A case of fraud, or suspected fraud, can be reported in confidence in the following ways:
PLEASE NOTE: CHANGES BEGIN FROM 5 OCTOBER - THIS MAY INCLUDE A CHANGE OF COLLECTION DAY - CHECK YOUR COLLECTION DAY ONLINE
14 September 2020
In Spring 2021, South Hams District Council will be introducing an all new ‘Super Recycler’ service, so that every household can recycle more.
The planned changes will add glass and a wider range of plastics to the list of items collected at the kerbside.
In preparation for the new service, a full review of the collection rounds has taken place and new routes will come in to effect from 5 October 2020. From this date, it is possible that crews will collect at a different time of the day for every household so it’s important that all waste is out by 7 a.m. For about two thirds of residents, actual collection days will change.
Reviewing the days and weeks we collect recycling and waste is a common part of delivering the service. These reviews are needed periodically to take account of new properties, and this round review is long overdue in South Hams.
With the incoming new service, now is the perfect time to implement a full review of the rounds. This will ensure that the rounds have been amended to take into account the changes that are needed for the new service to work effectively in 2021.
The new recycling service was originally planned to come into effect in September 2020 but has been delayed due to the impact of lockdown on vital supply chains and preparations.
Residents in the South Hams are already very good at recycling all of the items currently collected. With the introduction of the new service, South Hams District Council wants to help residents become Super Recyclers and recycle even more every single week.
Recycling more and throwing away less reduces the impact on the environment because less energy is used producing new materials and we can make the best use of our resources.
In 2019, South Hams District Council joined many other councils and Central Government, in declaring a climate change and biodiversity emergency. While tackling the global issues seems an overwhelming task, recycling is one of the easiest way for every household to do their bit.
The new service will introduce a new weekly separate food waste collection and weekly recycling collection. It will allow residents to recycling glass and plastic packaging, such as yoghurt pots, margarine tubs, meat trays and fruit punnets, at the kerbside. Garden waste and refuse collections will remain fortnightly.
All properties impacted by the day changes will receive a letter this week, 14 – 18 September, informing them of their new collection day. If residents have not received a letter and want to check if they have been affected they can use the ‘find my collection day’ feature on our website, www.southhams.gov.uk/
Cllr Keith Baldry, South Hams District Council’s Executive Member for Environment, said: “We are delighted to be bringing this improved service to our residents in Spring 2021. Many of them have been telling us that they want to recycle more materials, because they know how important recycling is.
“The collection route changes are a necessary step in the preparation for the new service. Residents may experience low levels of disruption while our hard working collection crews adjust to the new routes. If missed collections do occur they can be reported on our website the following day.”
Cllr Baldry added: “While we’ve unfortunately had to delay the new service until 2021, we hope the delay will mean that we have more time to talk to more people about the new service as lockdown restrictions ease.”
Residents will receive further information on the new service through their door in early 2021.
Collection calendars issued with council tax statements in March finish in September. This was in preparation for the original new service date. A downloadable copy of the calendar for the rest of 20/21 is available at www.southhams.gov.uk/
Eligible residents, who are living without gas heating, are being offered the opportunity to benefit from free gas central heating of home heating from South Hams District and West Devon Borough Councils.
The funding for District and Borough residents was gained last year from the Warm Home Fund and it is still available. We would really like to see eligible residents applying as soon as possible.
Further funding from the Councils is used, along with SSE Energy Solution’s ECO fund, who are project managing the scheme. Wales and West gas network will contribute by connecting properties to the gas network.
The Councils are targeting residents of households who are struggling to pay heating bills and living in a cold home without a gas supply. The aim is to provide central heating for up to 232 homes.
The project is part of the wider council target of reducing the area’s carbon emissions by replacing old inefficient heating systems.
South Hams District Council’s Executive Member for Health and Wellbeing, Cllr Jonathan Hawkins, said: “We are really keen that as many residents as possible take up this important scheme in the South Hams so they can benefit from warmer houses. There are too many homes which have out of date heating which can no longer cope.
“If you think you’re eligible for this scheme, or you know someone who is, please get in touch as soon as possible while this money is still available to us.”
The Councils will provide the boilers and central gas heating systems, which will improve both heating and energy efficiency. This is an important step in reducing the areas carbon footprint in inefficient homes.
Applications are welcome from both owner occupiers and also from the private rental sector, who do not have any central heating system (there is a £500 charge for landlords). Eligibility is dependent on the heating within the home and close to gas network. Homeowners must be under the housing income threshold of £35,000 p.a.
Local community energy groups Tamar Energy Community and South Dartmoor Energy Community Energy, will be able to give advice to households on energy suppliers and energy efficiency.
Please be aware that the Council will not cold call at homes offering these types of home improvement opportunities. If you are in any doubt, please contact the Council for further information.
The government is funding a voucher scheme to enable households and businesses in rural areas to access high speed broadband connections. The vouchers are £1500 for households and £3500 for businesses. The voucher is not handed over to individuals - instead, you will have to contact a broadband supplier in your area to handle the subsidy, and two or more residents in a "group scheme" are needed to qualify. There is more information on the following government website https://
This includes a postcode checker which then gives you a list of suppliers for this area if you are eligible. Cllr Andrew Hollett firstname.lastname@example.org has kindly offered to compile a list of those interested and put them in touch with each other. You may need to change your provider if they are not listed.
Devon County Council have updated their Coronavirus website and it now includes links to all the relevant data for Devon in an accessible format. The following advice/information is taken from that site.
Devon, so far, is doing well to keep the number of confirmed cases low, even after there’s been easing of lockdown restrictions. That’s largely due to residents, and visitors, sticking to the guidance. There is no sign of any impact from the relaxation of lockdown or increased visitor numbers.
"To protect yourself and others, when you leave home you must:
- keep washing your hands regularly
- wear a face covering over your nose and mouth in enclosed spaces
- stay at least a metre, or better still two, away from people not in your household."
We're still posting the latest national, regional and local updates and developments, but recently we've included links to the available data.
"The data is publicly available from different sources, but we've pulled it together into the one place to give Devon residents and visitors to the county access to the latest information.
Devon County Council is also actively recruiting people to work in the Adult Care sector, particularly people aged 16 - 25 years who would be interested in making it their long term career choice. Details are available on the following link.