The £100,000 council swindle

News story
News story

COUNCIL staff have tried to swindle £100,000 out of their employers, shocking new figures reveal.

Local authority officers have uncovered 20 cases of internal fraud during the last year with many now under police investigation.

The most lucrative alleged offences thwarted by audit experts relate to abuse of position involving employees misappropriating funds or forging documents.

Other uncovered cases involve staff falsifying time-sheets for financial gain and working elsewhere while on sick leave.

Council bosses have praised their anti-fraud teams for ensuring taxpayers’ money does not fall into the wrong hands.

Paul McKevitt, deputy chief executive, said: “Defrauding the taxpayer is a serious offence regardless of whether they are employees, taxpayers or contractors.

“We have strict, clear guidelines and if staff fall short of them we don’t hesitate to take action.

“The diligent work of the council’s audit team has saved us almost £100,000 related to internal fraud and a further £750,000 in housing benefit fraud (by residents).”

The figures were submitted by the council as part of the Audit Commission’s Annual Fraud and Corruption Survey.

A report on the council’s findings will be presented to the audit, governance and improvement review committee this week.

A breakdown of the 20 internal fraud cases reveals:

Eight housing benefit fraud cases involved employees, valued at £9,000

Eight employee contract fulfilment fraud (forging time-sheets, working elsewhere on sick leave), although no details have been submitted on the financial value of these incidents

Four abuse of position offences (falsifying documents, misappropriating funds), estimated to be £90,000, no further details have been submitted because of ongoing legal actions

Across the country, metropolitan district councils like Wigan have uncovered 315 internal fraud cases, valued at £559,430, the report adds.

Mr McKevitt added: “All cases of internal fraud identified have been subject to disciplinary action and where gross misconduct has been found employees have been sacked. Wherever possible, losses from fraud are recovered.”