Eight applications for business grants to help with the impact of Covid-19 are being investigated for potential fraud.

St Albans District Council has distributed a total of £24.3 million of government funding so far to 1,646 small businesses - but anti-fraud software has highlighted a few dubious claims.

Three software programmes have been used by the council to check that applications are genuine while business rates records have also been examined.

Checks have highlighted two cases where the applying business may have ceased trading shortly after the grant was paid.

A landlord who claimed for a second time after receiving a grant has also been identified.

Five companies which were not trading from the address given were also discovered and the grants were declined.

The council has launched an investigation after details were revealed in a council audit committee on Tuesday.

Councillor Julian Daly, chairman of the committee, said after the meeting: "Some of our staff worked flat out to get the Government grants out quickly to businesses that badly need this financial support.

"Member of the committee were grateful for their effort as it is really important to support local businesses that provide so many jobs for our residents.

"It is alarming that some people seem to have tried to take advantage of this Government scheme and commit fraud, but the numbers are small.

"What is also pleasing is that we now have robust procedures in place for rooting out suspect claims. The Committee will continue to ensure our anti-fraud methods keep pace with modern trends.

"It is vital that while we support local business, we also protect the public’s money by carrying out the most thorough checks possible."