In Oct 2016 claims for Housing Benefit & Council Tax applications for those in the Shepway District, will be able to be made online for the first time. The Audit & Governance committee chaired by Cllr David Owen, met in the Boulogne Room at 7pm on the 7th Sept at the Civic Centre to discuss the risk of potential fraud and error with regards to online claims.
The meeting was not open to the public.
Benefit fraud costs the government £1.3 billion (0.7%) a year, according to official Government statistics. Staff make more errors and cause more overpayments than claimants committing out right fraud.
However, that got us thinking. The Annual Fraud Indicator produced by Experian, PKF Littlejohn (Forensic Auditors), and the Centre for Counter-Fraud Studies at the University of Portsmouth, state that Local Government Procurement Fraud amounts to £4.1 billion (pg21).
With the evidence available Local Government Officers are 3 times more likely to commit fraud than those making claims for Housing Benefit, Council Tax or any other benefit available.
For the last two years Shepway District Council have failed to publish their Procurement information as they MUST by law (We wonder why?). They have failed to publish details of any contract, commissioned activity, purchase order, framework agreement and any other legally enforceable agreement with a value that exceeds £5,000.
The fact that behind closed doors SDC spoke about benefit claimants committing fraud while making an online claim, when local government officers across the country are 3 times more likely to commit fraud, is we think, appalling.
SDC like all other councils, should begin to look at their own officers and tackle the growing amount of procurement fraud that goes on within their walls. Oh and SDC really should publish that procurement information.