Agenda item

Annual Fraud Report 2019/20 and Counter Fraud Plan 2020/21

 

The Head of Internal Audit, Anti-Fraud and Assurance will submit a report providing an account of counter fraud related activity undertaken by the Internal Audit Corporate Anti-Fraud Team during the period 1st April 2019 to 31st March 2020 and informing the Committee of the Team’s Plan for 2020/21.

 

Minutes:

The Head of Internal Audit, Anti-Fraud and Assurance submitted a report providing an account of counter fraud related activity undertaken by the Internal Audit Corporate Anti-Fraud Team during the period 1st April, 2019 to 31st March, 2020 and informing the Committee of the Team’s Plan for 2020/21.

 

In 2019/20 the Team had a total budgeted plan of 578 days.  Preventative anti-fraud work undertaken totalled 157 days, reactive investigations totalled 395 days and a further 20 days had been allocated to Internal Audit work and external clients.

 

The 200/21 operational work programme had been developed to ensure the resources of the Team were utilised in an efficient, effective and accountable way and the work programme would be reviewed continually to reflect fraud trends, emerging risks and general workload.

 

The report provided a summary of activity together with the outcome, including the monetary value of successful investigations, in relation to corporate pro-active counter fraud activity and reactive investigation work undertaken during the year with specific reference to the following:

 

·         Acknowledging and preventing fraud

·         Data matching exercises undertaken in relation to the National Fraud Initiative including the involvement with an HMRC pilot which matched HMRC and NFI data to identify fraud

·         The review of the Council’s Anti-Fraud and Corruption Policy and support to counter fraud polices

·         Reactive Fraud work

·         Corporate investigations

·         Council Tax Support investigations

·         Council Tax fraudulent liability claims

·         Allegations of non-domestic rates fraud

·         Insurance claim fraud checks

·         Right to Buy fraud prevention

·         Housing Tenancy Fraud

·         Blue Badge misuse/abuse

 

The report then outlined the key features of the 2020/21 Plan together with information on how the Team was supporting the Council’s response to the Covid 19 pandemic.

 

The Head of Internal Audit, Anti-Fraud and Assurance commented on the successful performance of the Team.  Whilst this comprised only three staff members, when things went wrong and the Authority suffered error or fraud, the Team had the necessary capability and expertise to tackle issues and seek appropriate actions and response.

 

Particular mention was made to the operation of the Blue Badge scheme and in response to specific questioning Ms Race (Principal Auditor) outlined the action taken to prevent fraudulent use particularly by families of the deceased.  She stressed, however, that the majority of badges were returned as required in such circumstances.  Information was also provided about prosecutions that had been instigated in relation to the scheme.

 

RESOLVED:

 

(i)            That the progress made in the development of effective arrangements and measures to minimise the risk of fraud and corruption be noted;

 

(ii)          That the Corporate Anti-Fraud Team Plan 2020/21 be approved acknowledging the need for the Head of Internal Audit, Anti-Fraud and Assurance to exercise his professional judgement during the year to apply the plan flexibly, allowing for planned proactive or detective days to be diverted to reactive investigation work as required;

 

(iii)            That further regular monitoring reports be submitted in order to demonstrate progress made against the Plan including information where the Plan has materially varied from the original Plan; and

 

(iv)             That the embedding of a culture of zero tolerance and high levels of awareness regarding fraud and corruption be supported.

Supporting documents: