The Bureau Local, which produces collaborative investigations alongside a network of 1,500 people across the UK, has launched a crowdsourced project to explore fraud connected to grants given to businesses in England during the covid-19 pandemic.
They are looking for volunteers to send requests for information to councils under the Local Audit and Accountability Act 2014, which gives people the right to inspect local authority accounts and related documents during a set period each year.
As with its previous investigations, Bureau Local, which is part of the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, has drawn up a reporting recipe that acts as a guide for volunteers taking part in the project.
The investigation follows a recent report by the Public Accounts Committee which highlighted how covid-19 support grants, including several administered by local authorities, had been subject to widespread fraud and error.
The Bureau has previously investigated risky property investments by local authorities and also the public spaces being lost to the local government funding crisis. More recently they have worked alongside Deliveroo riders to expose low pay and poor working conditions within the gig economy and revealed how most GP surgeries are refusing to register undocumented migrants, meaning they are unable to access covid-19 vaccines.
If you would like to take part in the investigation please email Gareth at TBIJ.
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