Counter Fraud Update
The Committee were provided with an update on the work, outputs, and performance of the Counter Fraud Team for the period 1 April 2022 to 31 July 2022. Members were also provided with a summary of the results of investigative activity and the savings achieved, as well as the outturns against the teams set performance measures.
The Head of Internal Audit & Counter Fraud Shared Services gave Members a brief summary of each section in the report.
The Head of Internal Audit & Counter Fraud Shared Services directed Members attention to page 107 which detailed savings related to investigations; future reports would include details of any housing benefit overpayments as a consequence of work carried out by the DWP but there were no cases during this period.
The Head of Internal Audit & Counter Fraud Shared Services advised that 129 investigations were concluded in the reporting period which resulted in savings of £97,841 compared to the costs for the team which were £81,960, demonstrating good value for money.
The Head of Internal Audit & Counter Fraud Shared Services fielded questions from Members and explained that:
· A plan for developing fraud awareness within the Council was in place; introductory sessions were had with a number of services and a few teams within Housing had received full fraud awareness sessions. The work was ongoing, and the team would continue to engage with services in the Council to deliver fraud awareness training and learn the areas where the Fraud Team needed to target the most. The Head of Internal Audit & Counter Fraud Shared Services advised that all services were unlikely to be reached before the end of the year but there was a rolling programme for the future
· With regard to detecting fraud before it happened and monitoring early signs of fraud, Members were advised that it was difficult to measure something that hadn’t happened yet, but the team were looking into methods to do so. A lot of the time if fraud had been prevented then the Fraud Team would not find out until later as services such as Council Tax and Benefits undertook their own verifications to ensure no fraudulent behaviour had occurred and therefore wouldn’t need a fraud investigation by the Counter Fraud team. The Head of Internal Audit & Counter Fraud Shared Services had spoken with neighbouring local authorities about how they measured what fraud may have been prevented and would continue work on devising a method
· The effectiveness of the Fraud Awareness training sessions was measured by the referrals the team received; typically, after a session was delivered to a service then there would be a spike of referrals made by that service
· With regard to Council tax fraud, where people had made a deliberate false statement then the team would seek to prosecute but there were circumstances where it may not be in the public interest to pursue criminal proceedings. In such instances, the council tax department can consider imposing a financial penalty for negligence but if the person was already in serious financial strain this may not be considered appropriate.
- 3. F&A Covering report - CF Update Report, item 18. PDF 203 KB
- 4. Appendix 2 - CF Update 01 April 2022 to 31 Jul 2022, item 18. PDF 302 KB