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Warrington Borough Council continues to take strong action against fraud, bribery and corruption, a new report shows.
The counter-fraud, bribery and corruption annual report presented to the council’s Audit and Corporate Governance Committee on Tuesday 25 April demonstrates the effective procedures in place in Warrington to prevent and detect inaccuracies and fraud.
Warrington’s Corporate Counter Fraud Unit delivers most of this work, with support from the Internal Audit team and other services where appropriate. The Unit operates as part of the joint working arrangement between Warrington and Salford City Councils.
In the past year, the team has closed 262 fraud and overpayment cases, in areas including council tax support, discounts and exemptions, housing benefit overpayment, business rates and care payments. This work has delivered over £213,000 in savings for the council.
The report includes summaries of a number of steps that have been taken in the past year to combat fraud. These include the appointment of a dedicated Counter Fraud Manager, increased training and awareness-raising and effective joint working with partners, including other local authorities, registered housing providers, the Department for Work and Pensions and the police.
A key area of work that the unit is continuing to strengthen is data matching as part of the National Fraud Initiative. This important exercise matches data across organisations and systems to help public bodies identify potentially fraudulent claims and transactions.
Cllr Cathy Mitchell, deputy leader and cabinet member for corporate resources, said: “It’s vital that we have the right systems in place to help us tackle fraud and protect public money. I’m pleased with the progress made by our Counter Fraud Unit in the last 12 months – it’s clear their work is making a real impact.
“Having effective counter fraud procedures means that we can maximise funding for the people who really need it. It also has a positive impact on the council’s financial position, through recovery of overpayments or financial penalties imposed. This is money that can help us protect vital services
“This report shows the robust programmes of work we have in place across, and our commitment to improve training and develop stronger partnership working will further strengthen our ability to detect and prevent inaccuracies, fraud and error.”