To receive a report from the Director of Law and Governance providing the Counter Fraud Service Annual Report 2018/19.
RECEIVED a report from the Director of Law and Governance, presenting the Counter Fraud Service Annual Report.
1. The report was presented by Gemma Young (Head of Internal Audit & Risk Management) and was the Annual report of the Counter Fraud team who prevent and detect fraud throughout the year.
2. Overall, the team have identified overpayments of £3.85M which is an increase of 60% over from the previous year (2017/18).
3. The team had done a lot of work on Council housing, Right to Buy (RTB) and No recourse to public funds (NRTPF). Counter Fraud (CF) had supported Council housing and temporary accommodation teams in recovering over 100 properties.
4. The CF team had denied 30 RTB applications equating to £3M. Often with denied RTBs other types of fraud are uncovered aswell i.e. council tax fraud, housing benefit and sub-letting council properties.
5. As detailed at Table A (pages 165-166 of the report), the section has levied 3 financial penalties for council tax fraud offences i.e. single person discount. As a result, 106 entitlements to single person discount were withdrawn and 3 financial penalties levied equating to £76k in income for the Council.
6. In terms of the team’s pro-active exercises, a National Fraud Initiative (NFI) is currently being undertaken and the results will be reported back to the committee at the October 2019 meeting.
7. The CF action plan has been in place throughout the year and includes a dedicated investigator within Children’s Services to look at every NRTPF claims that come in. This often uncovers safeguarding issues with claimants’ children. There are also 2 officers embedded within Council Housing and this arrangement seems to be working well.
8. During 2018/19, the team had investigated 3 cases of whistleblowing.
9. The following questions and queries raised in response to the report:
a. Councillor David-Sanders commended Gemma Young for her good report. Outcomes were demonstrated, members could see monetary value behind the preventions and what the council is recovering. A good piece of work.
b. The Chair enquired if the same targets are used every year. Gemma Young clarified that she now had an apprentice in the team with another in the new year so she would be well placed to stretch targets i.e. council housing may have a target of 75 as opposed to 60.
c. The Chair asked how staff are trained and the policy delivered to officers as regards the whistle blowing policy. Gemma Young clarified that the policy is only on the Council web site and work needs to be done around the induction of staff and introducing them to counter fraud measures sooner. Gemma Young would like to encourage more staff to come forward where they have concerns. However, there had already been 3 cases of whistle blowing so far this year.
d. Gemma Young responded to members regarding the resourcing of the CF team. The team were well resourced, including the arrival of 2 apprentices this year, but could always do with more ... view the full minutes text for item 75
CONTRACT PROCEDURE RULES - 20:05 - 20:20
To receive the report of the Director of Finance providing a Review of the Contract Procedure Rules.
This item has been withdrawn due to no changes to the Contract Procedure Rules.
1. The report had been made but there had been no changes to the Contract Procedure Rules. It was decided not to declare the report.
There will be a review of the Constitution and the Contract Procedure Rules will change and the report can then be heard at a future Committee meeting.