Anti-fraud and corruption annual report
- Meeting of Audit and Governance Committee, Tuesday 25 January 2022 10.15 am (Item 69.)
- View the background to item 69.
To provide an annual update to the committee on counter fraud activity.
The committee received an annual update on counter fraud activity.
The head of corporate finance introduced the report, drawing attention to: the summary of the position in relation to Covid-19 business support grants (agenda page 77); the introduction of a mandatory ‘fraud awareness and prevention’ e-learning module for staff; comprehensive fraud risk assessments being undertaken with services across the council; a new fraud awareness intranet page, with a new fraud referral form on the platform; and the examples of successful outcomes shown at paragraphs 19 - 22 (agenda page 76).
The main points made during the discussion included:
i. The head of corporate finance advised that the new fraud referral form had been in place since November 2021 and had been utilised, adding that a similar process was being developed for the public to use via the council’s website and this was due to go live from April 2022.
ii. The chairperson congratulated the counter fraud specialist for being a finalist for the ‘Outstanding Young Professional of 2021’ at the ‘Tackling Economic Crime Awards’.
iii. The head of corporate finance said that there was a published flowchart process to filter referrals appropriately.
iv. A number of attendees welcomed the high quality of the report and the progress that had been made.
v. A committee member commented on the value of local government involvement in managing and recovering business grants.
vi. The head of corporate finance said that government funding for new burdens had been fully utilised in the Covid-19 grant activity.
vii. Referring to paragraph 31 (agenda page 77/78), a committee member questioned how the detection of instances of fraud would be reflected in the relevant risk registers. The counter fraud specialist confirmed that the council had been working closely with internal audit on fraud risk assessments which would underpin the approach and feed into the new risk register system that was in development.
viii. The director of resources and assurance praised the work of the counter fraud specialist and the wider team, particularly in managing the risks associated with Covid business grants, raising fraud awareness across the council, and in building strong links with other agencies and sharing intelligence. In response to a question from the chairperson, the director considered that the balance was right in terms of support resource but would wish to look at this a year after the Covid arrangements had come to an end.
ix. The cabinet member - finance, corporate services and planning also congratulated officers on this work and noted the need for high levels of vigilance and motivation, especially given the creative and changing ways in which some people attempted to defraud public bodies and other organisations.
x. The chairperson commented that the report was full of relevant interest and suggested that the successful outcomes should be communicated to the public. Other committee members commented on the potential to publicise counter fraud activity as a deterrent to others and to reassure the public that the council was providing as much security as it could.
a) the annual report has been reviewed; and
b) the department works with the communications team to produce a press release about ongoing counter-fraud activity and the successes during the past year.
Action 139 As per recommendation b) above.