The Head of Internal Audit and Corporate Anti-Fraud will submit his annual report providing an account of counter fraud related activity undertaken by Internal Audit’s Corporate Team for the period 1st April, 2017 to 31st March, 2018 and providing information and assurance to the Committee regarding key aspects of the Authority’s risk management, control and governance framework.
The Head of Internal Audit and Corporate Anti-Fraud submitted his annual report providing an account of counter-fraud related activity undertaken by Internal Audit’s corporate team for the period 1st April, 2017 to 31st March, 2018 and providing information and assurance to the Committee regarding key aspects of the Authority’s risk management, internal control and governance framework.
The meeting noted key priorities for 2018/19 as set out in Section 6 of the report, with 558 days allocated for reactive and pro-active fraud work during the year. The emphasis on improving fraud awareness across the Council during the year was highlighted, in particular by way of a proposed fraud awareness week aimed at building better relationships across the Council. It was proposed to submit further plans for anti-fraud work to the Committee in due course.
In the ensuing discussion, the following matters were highlighted:-
· The meeting noted that the level of duplicate payments highlighted represented the clearing of an historical backlog from before October 2016, when a system for identifying duplicate payments was introduced. It was noted that recent changes to the payments system would stop a duplicate payment being made in the first place, rather than being identified later when repayment would be required.
· In relation to tenancy fraud, it was noted that cases where no evidence of fraud were found were generally held on file, and could be re-opened later in the light of further information. Whilst Berneslai Homes did undertake landlord checks to confirm the identity of residents, its effectiveness was reduced by the requirement to give notice in writing of any visit. The possibility of providing tenants with photo identification was being investigated, and arrangements for data matching tenants also under consideration. Housing Management Officers would also follow-up any allegations received from neighbouring residents. It was intended that Berneslai Homes would be involved in the proposed fraud awareness week to include tenancy fraud, with consideration of proposals such as key amnesties.
· The meeting noted that the amounts of fraud and error identified at the end of March 2018 of £240,196 were primarily errors or mistakes for example small amounts of undeclared income resulting in lower entitlements. Where the overpayment arose from a systems issue, for example out of date data, the issues have been addressed and the systems updated.
· It was noted that all Right to Buy applications were subject to detailed identity checks, carried out by the Council’s Strategic Housing team and included anti-fraud checks on those resident in the property.
(i) that the Annual Anti-Fraud Report be received as part of the framework of assurance to support the Annual Governance Statement; and
(ii) that the embedding of a culture of zero tolerance and high levels of awareness regarding fraud and corruption be supported.