Fraud team saves Telford and Wrekin Council nearly £250k
Nearly a quarter of a million pounds was saved by Telford and Wrekin’s fraud investigations team last year, senior officers say.
But the report, due to go before the authority's audit committee, says fewer than half of revenue fraud probes launched had a positive outcome for the council.
The investigation team, which consists of two full-time officers, saved the authority £227,735.92 in 2018-19. Council tax and revenue cases accounted for just under a third of this.
The report authors say the system for reporting fraud has been simplified, with four separate online forms reduced to one, and new council staff are routinely trained on the whistleblowing process.
The document, co-written by senior investigations officer Andrew Hollis, principal auditor Tracey Drummond and figures from the public protection and benefit assessment departments, says the investigations team look into “fraud, error and irregularity across the authority”.
The team is still new and relatively small, the authors write, but has “already achieved notable success”.
They say: “A high proportion of the investigation team’s work comes from matters affecting the Revenues service.
“One hundred and seventy investigations were conducted into revenues matters in 2018-19, with 71 being positive.
“The total value of savings identified in this area were £71,013.27.”
Housing benefit was the biggest area, accounting for £130,100 of savings.
Proceeds of crime matters amounted to £17,250 while a further £9,370 came from investigating fraudulent adult social care claimants.
The authors say: “A number of internal investigations have been undertaken. This includes two matters that have been referred to the police.
“This work has been time-consuming but has resulted in beneficial outcomes to the authority.”
The anti-fraud section of the council’s website was also updated in 2018-19, the report says.
“The site now provides the general public with information relating to all sorts of fraud and irregularity that can affect Telford and Wrekin Council, and encourages the reporting of suspected fraudulent activity across those areas,” the authors write.
“The previous internet pages also contained four different reporting forms.
“A new single form is now available that allows the reporting of any type of potential fraud. It also allows the online reporting of whistleblowing referrals.”
A new training package, detailing how to raise concerns with the investigations team, is now a standard part of employee induction.
The report will be discussed by Telford and Wrekin Council’s Audit Committee when it meets on Thursday, May 30.
The membership of the audit committee is yet to be decided, but will be confirmed at the Telford and Wrekin Council AGM on Thursday, May 23.