Top

Top

Agenda Item No

The Vale of Glamorgan Council

 

Audit Committee: 16th November, 2015

 

Report of the Head of Finance and Section 151 Officer

 

Audit Committee - National Fraud Initiative 2014

Purpose of the Report

  1. To present to Members for review and consideration a status report on the progress made to date on the National Fraud Initiative 2014.

Recommendation

That Members give due consideration to the NFI update report.

Reason for the Recommendation

To keep the Audit Committee informed.

Background

  1. The National Fraud Initiative (NFI) is a data matching exercise that helps to detect and prevent fraud and overpayments across the UK. Forty-three Welsh public sector bodies take part in the exercise, including local authorities, NHS bodies, police authorities, fire authorities, and Welsh Government. Public Audit (Wales) Act 2004 - gives the Auditor General for Wales the power to request data from organisations and undertake the data matching exercises.
  2. The NFI has been run every 2 years since 1996, and to date, has been used to identify fraud and overpayments totalling over £26 million in Wales.
  3. Since the abolition of the Audit Commission in March 2015, the NFI has become part of the Cabinet Office, but is coordinated in Wales by the Wales Audit Office in collaboration with equivalent bodies in England, Scotland and Northern Ireland.
  4. Participating organisations submit data to the NFI where it is matched against other data sets using specific criteria. The submitted information is wide ranging and includes data sets relating to housing benefits, council tax, payroll, creditors, licensing, disabled blue badges, concessionary travel, insurance claims, care homes and personal budgets.
  5. Reports containing potential matches are then released to each organisation to investigate. It is important to note that where a match is found it is not in itself evidence of a fraud and may be an error or an inconsistency that requires further investigation. Historically, the NFI exercise has been conducted biennially although the Council Tax matching (run separately), has recently been changed to an annual process.
  6. Data was last submitted by the Council in October 2014 with the results being released in January 2015. Council Tax data is submitted separately and matches are released at different dates. Two Council Tax reports were issued in 2014, in April and December.
  7. Internal Audit acts as the Key Contact and provides access to the reports on the NFI website to the relevant Council departments who are asked to investigate the matches and update the NFI website accordingly.

Relevant Issues and Options

  1. The following table highlights progress made so far by departments along with an example of the types of resolutions being achieved.
  2. The NFI data matching exercise is an ongoing one, and the data represents the status as at a specific point in time. For departments with matches that remain open, the NFI website is continually being updated either on an individual match basis or on a whole report basis where work has been undertaken offline.
  3. In some reports certain matches will be highlighted as being stronger and the NFI recommend these are given priority. However, the NFI advise that each organisation prioritizes the order in which matches are investigated depending on the resources available.

Report Group

Total Matches

Total Recommended Matches

Processed

% Processed

Outcomes / Example Resolution

Blue Badge Parking Permit

324

299

0

0.00%

Waiting on department to progress.

Example resolution: Pass cancelled and system updated.

Concessionary Travel Pass

921

921

0

0.00%

Waiting on department to progress.

Example resolution: Pass cancelled and system updated.

Council Tax

2,075

2,075

2,068

99.66%

7 cases still to investigate. 22 discounts have been stopped and 9 have been changed to a different discount.

Example resolution: Withdrawal of discount and instigation of recovery.

Creditors History

1,414

121

0

0.00%

Waiting on department to progress.

Example resolution: Investigate matches to establish if they are duplicate payments. Recovery of payments can be initiated where necessary.

Creditors Standing

612

N/A

0

0.00%

Waiting on department to progress.

Example resolution: Investigate creditor data to establish if there are duplicate supplier records set up in the system. Amend or consolidate records accordingly.

Housing (Tenants & Right to Buy

57

11

5

8.77%

Ongoing.

Example resolution: Confirm data and instigate fraud investigation if required. Reclaim all or part of the discount originally awarded.

Housing Benefit Claimants

1,207

299

252

20.88%

Ongoing. Overpayments totalling £2747.31 being recovered so far.

Example resolution: removal or amendment of benefit.

Payroll

33

1

33

100%

All payroll matches complete. No issues.

Example resolution: check data is correct and confirm hours/contracts with other organisation. Amend data held if incorrect.

Payroll to Creditors

81

42

34

41.98%

8 Payroll to Creditors [recommended] matches being investigated by Internal Audit.

Example resolution: Introduction of declarations of interest procedures into a department.

Personal Budgets

41

2

0

0.00%

Waiting on department to progress.

Example resolution: Amend or cancel payments.

Private Residential Care Homes

24

7

24

100.00%

Complete. No issues.

Example resolution: Confirm dates when payments should have ended. Reclaim payments if required.

Resident Parking Permit

3

2

2

66.67%

2 permits have expired. 1 being investigated.

Example resolution: End a permit on internal system.

Taxi Drivers

2

N/A

2

100%

In progress.

Example resolution: Confirm immigration status and right to work. Revoke licence if necessary.

TOTAL

6,794

3,780

2,418

35.62%

 
           
  1. Payroll to Creditor Matches

As part of the 2015/16 Internal Audit plan, it was agreed that as a one off exercise, Internal Audit would review the recommended Payroll to Creditor matches. The majority were closed with no issues identified, however a small number remain outstanding and require further review by either Internal Audit or Payroll as there may be a common underlying issue that needs resolving.

  1. Council Tax Matches

Of the 2075 matches generated, an initial review identified 561 cases where further information was needed. Letters were sent to confirm eligibility for discount and in 22 cases the discount has subsequently been cancelled. This has resulted in a recoverable amount of £11,551 being identified and action is being taken to reclaim this money.

  1. Blue Badges & Concessionary Travel Passes

Whilst it is noted that none of these matches have been reviewed to date, a number of staff have now been set up with access to the NFI website. It is anticipated that the reviews will commence from the end of October as there is now the resource to do this.                

  1. Creditors

Since the release of the initial data in January 2015 there has been a change in key personnel within the department. As a consequence the identified matches have not been reviewed or investigated to date. A discussion with the Operational Manager Exchequer Services has confirmed that matches will be allocated amongst officers and work will commence in the imminent future.

  1. Personal Budgets

A change in responsible officer has occurred since the release of the matches in January 2015. An alternative officer has since been given access to the matches in relation to Personal Budgets but work is yet to commence.

Resource Implications (Financial and Employment)

  1. None as a direct consequence of this report. However, there are resource implications involved in preparation and submission of data and working through the resultant matches. Any resource implications are met within current budgets. In return savings may be identified or money may be recovered.

Sustainability and Climate Change Implications

  1. None directly from this report.

Legal Implications (to Include Human Rights Implications)

  1. Public Audit (Wales) Act 2004: Provides the Auditor General for Wales the power to undertake the data matching exercises.

Data Protection Act 1998: There is a requirement under the Act to ensure data quality and to securely store and transmit data.

Crime and Disorder Implications

  1. None as a direct consequence of this report.

Equal Opportunities Implications (to include Welsh Language issues)

  1. None as a direct consequence of this report.

Corporate/Service Objectives

  1. The work of audit is intended to assist in the achievement of all corporate and service objectives.

Policy Framework and Budget

  1. The proposals in this report are in accordance with the policy framework and budget.

Consultation (including Ward Member Consultation)

  1. No further consultation is proposed.

Relevant Scrutiny Committee

  1. Corporate Resources.

Background Papers

None.

Contact Officer

Helen Smith - Operational Manager - Audit Tel: 01656 754901

Officers Consulted

N/A

Responsible Officer:

Carys Lord - Head of Finance and Section 151 Officer

 

Share on facebook Like us on Facebook