Agenda item

Audit & Counter Fraud Update - 1 April to 31 August 2020


The Committee were provided with a report that updated on the work, outputs and performance of the Audit & Counter Fraud Team for the period 1 April 2020 to 31 August 2020.  


The Head of the Audit & Counter Fraud Shared Services guided Members through the report and highlighted key areas for Members consideration.


Under PM13a on page 51 of the report, the Head of the Audit & Counter Fraud Shared Services informed Members that as of today, the proportion of agreed assurance assignments that were delivered had increased from 5% to 29%.


In response to questions from Members, the Head of Audit & Counter Fraud Shared Services and the Director (Corporate Services) explained that:


  • With regards to the Apprenticeships Scheme, a review was being undertaken to put a policy in place to ensure the Scheme would be utilised effectively. Through that work, steps would be taken in the future to maximise the amount of work carried out through the Scheme. The Scheme did not only apply to young people/school leavers, existing staff also had the opportunity to upskill. Management Team were keen to maximise the use of the maximise the use of the apprentice levy, upskill the existing workforce and bring in new staff through the Scheme
  • Apprentices had been very successful at the Council in the past; there were usually twelve or thirteen apprentices in post every year. Management Team were interested in addressing some of the concerns around employment opportunities in the current climate and a number of options were being reviewed. The Council will also look to help the local economy through Government schemes such as the Kickstart Campaign
  • With regards to the two employees that falsified Covid-19 Shielding Letters, the Head of Audit & Counter Fraud Shared Services consulted with HR and a discussion was held on the amount of resources it would take to pursue disciplinary investigations for both staff members. It was decided that as they resigned immediately following notification of a pending investigation, the issue had been resolved and it was deemed not cost effective to spend a large amount of resources on completing the disciplinary investigation. The Head of Audit & Counter Fraud advised that these were isolated cases that appeared to be the work of two opportunists rather than the start of a wide scale problem within the council. The issue was quickly identified by HR due to the controls in place and the two individuals are no longer employed by the council.
  • A data matching exercise is where the team took sets of data from various sources and inputted them into a database for comparison. The Cabinet Office ran the National Fraud Initiative (NFI) which took election data and compared it to addresses that were in receipt of the Single Person Discount. The database would flag up any addresses where there were multiple people living there over the age eighteen which assisted the team in finding possible fraudulent cases. KIN stood for the Kent Intelligence Network which was a network that was run by KCC, Medway Council and the district authorities within Kent; it was created through a successful funding bid to the DCLG. It is a fraud hub that the authorities use to run data matching to identify potential fraud and error within their areas
  • All of the information in the report occurred after the start of Covid-19 and the national lockdown; there was one referral case of homelessness (page 48) which was rejected due to insufficient information to justify investigation. The team had a limited amount of resources to pursue investigations and sometimes the information received from the public wasn’t enough to warrant an investigation, which was most likely what happened with the referral. Often the cases were reported out of hours and they did not leave any contact information to purse follow up information and clarification


The Head of Audit & Counter Shared Services advised that the National Fraud Initiative was one of the biggest areas that the team worked on and a specific update on the work that stemmed from the most recently completed exercise would be submitted to the Committee at a future meeting.


Resolved that the information contained within the report was noted.



Supporting documents: