Agenda item

Counter Fraud & Investigation Performance Report Q2


David Kleinberg presented the report that outlined the performance of the Counter Fraud and Investigation team over the last quarter for Thurrock Council as well as the work the team had delivered nationally for other public bodies. Members were referred to the performances of the department and the proactive work plan for 2020/21. That the COVID systems put in place to test the information against credit references data had been very positive and would be looking to roll this out in other services in teams such as social care who also accessed for peoples eligibility to services.


Councillor Ralph referred to the COVID grant funding and questioned whether the investigations would be ongoing to which David Kleinberg stated these would continue with the grant programme and would be reported back to the committee.


Councillor Snell referred to housing fraud and the patterns of the type of frauds being committed and questioned whether there was anything that could be done pro-actively at the start of the process. David Kleinberg stated that Thurrock was unique in that it had a lot of front line staff working side by side with our teams working on the estates and working with residents that has proved the easiest way to spot a potential fraud. That a lot of work and training had been undertaken with the estates care takers and housing officers who go out into the estates and support our tenants.


Councillor Carter questioned how Thurrock compared to their statistical neighbours to which David Kleinberg stated that a lot of authorities did not have a counter fraud team, this activity would sit in their internal audit function. That Thurrock had invested heavily in protecting the council and the results had proved that it was worthwhile, a testament to the work undertaken in Thurrock.


Charles Clarke referred to the 90 reports of suspected fraud and the 144 active investigations that were currently being investigated and questioned whether there were some cases from previous quarters still going through. David Kleinberg stated that yes some cases would cross over financial quarters. Charles Clarke stated the trend was that housing had the highest number of cases and questioned what could be done to reduce and prevent those figures from growing. David Kleinberg stated this was a very difficult area particularly with COVID and housing fraud especially difficult when trying to prove that a resident was sub-letting but living elsewhere when people were being told to stay at home. That tactics were changed and that piece of work had been reactivated now that restrictions had eased.


Charles Clarke referred to the COVID grant fund cases and questioned whether this was a reflection on what came back into the Council and whether there was motive to do more investigations to recover more money. David Kleinberg stated that a different focus has been undertaken with some good successes. Referred to an organised crime attack on the grant scheme during COVID with Thurrock now leading on the national response on that organised crime in those schemes.


Councillor Ralph questioned whether the Council shouted about the successes in providing its services to others to which David Kleinberg stated this was quite difficult as the Council provided investigation services to government agencies who owned an activity. So as the Council did not own the activity, only provided the service, it was quite hard to shout about it as this was not the Council’s work or responsibility.  David Kleinberg reported to the committee that Thurrock’s national counter fraud function had been nominated and were finalists for the Tackling Economic Crime Awards for its collaboration with Government with the winners being notified next month and would let the committee know at the next committee. 




That Standard and Audit Committee commented on the performance of the Counter Fraud & Investigation Department.


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