Counter-Fraud for data transparency
S43 of the Local Government Transparency Code 2014, requires local authorities to publish information about their counter fraud work.
The attached figures cover the period 1/4/2022 – 31/3/2023.
Number of occasions powers were used under the Prevention of Social Housing Fraud (Power to Require Information) (England) Regulations 2014, or similar powers
- Internal Audit - not used
- Revenues - not used
- Benefits - not used
- Housing - not used
Total number (absolute and full time equivalent) of employees undertaking investigations and prosecutions of fraud
- Internal Audit - one employee (approx. 0.1 FTE) may be involved in investigations that could relate to fraud and also reviews potential fraud cases from annual National Fraud Initiative (NFI) reports received (Since April 2022, the Council’s internal audit service has been provided by the Southern Internal Audit Partnership (SIAP) who would now conduct any specific fraud investigations, as and when required)
- Benefits - investigations staff were transferred to the DWP SFIS in December 2015. No fraud officer since April 2019.
- Housing - one Fraud Investigation & Enforcement Officer since June 2021 (0.6 FTE)
- Legal Services - no prosecutions in 2022/23
Total number (absolute and full time equivalent) of professionally accredited counter fraud specialists
- Internal Audit - none
- Benefits - none
- Housing - one (0.6 FTE)
Total spent by the authority on the investigation and prosecution of fraud
- Internal Audit - c. £6k (based upon staff time)
- Revenues - c. £2.5k (additional review of NFI reports)
- Housing - c. £25k
Total number of fraud cases investigated
- Internal Audit - general review of NFI reports only
- Housing - 267 referrals received (resulting in 10 properties successfully obtained back and 4 mutual exchange applications refused)
Since March 2020, the Council has been responsible for the distribution of over £50M of Government Covid-19 business support grants. As part of this, the Government has required significant pre- and post-payment assurance checking to prevent fraud. This work has been undertaken by staff in the Revenues, Economy and Internal Audit sections. Time and costs for this have not been calculated, but as part of the Covid-19 response the Council has received ‘New Burdens’ funding from the Government to cover this. Final payments under these schemes were made in March 2022, but assurance work continued through 2022/23.
From April-November 2022 the Council was responsible for the distribution of c.£8.5M of Government funding for their Council Tax Energy Rebate scheme and since March 2023 for further payments under their Energy Bills Support Scheme (EBSS) – Alternative Funding and Alternative Fuel Payments schemes, to assist residents with the significant rise in energy prices. Pre- and post-payment assurance work has also been required to be undertaken by Revenues and Internal Audit staff for these schemes and final payments are due to be made by the end of June 2023.
It should be noted that more detailed information on the Council’s counter-fraud activities is presented to the Audit & Governance Committee in July, covering the previous financial year. A copy of this report is provided on the Data Transparency web page.