Fighting Fraud Corruption Locally Strategy 2020s
Fighting Fraud and Corruption Locally 2020s is the counter fraud and corruption strategy for local government. It provides a blueprint for a coordinated response to fraud and corruption perpetrated against local authorities with the support of those at the top.
Local authorities continue to face a significant fraud challenge and while the official figures are dated the argument about protecting funds and vulnerable people remains. The National Fraud Authority estimated local authorities face the threat of £2.1bn fraud in a year in 2013. In fact, the Annual Fraud Indicator produced by Crowe Clark Whitehill estimates that figure may be as high as £7.8bn in 2017, out of a total of £40.4bn for the public sector as a whole).. The Government’s Economic Crime Plan states that the numbers of fraud offences rose by 12% during 2018 to 3.6 million – constituting a third of all crimes in the UK.
Board members and contributors
CLLR Richard Watts
Chair Resources Board, Local Government Association Leader Islington Council
The Fighting Fraud and Corruption Locally Strategy is an excellent example of how councils can come together for the overall benefit of local services and residents served. The strategy has been led by the Fighting Fraud and Corruption Locally Board. This Board has been described as “a coalition of the willing”. It is a group of senior multi-disciplinary experts from councils working together with partners, that work with the councils on counter fraud activities. The Board is currently chaired by a representative from the Society of Local Authority Chief Executives (SOLACE). The Board members and the organisations they come from all provide their expertise on a pro bono basis, for the benefit of the sector and to help counter fraud. The board is supported by the LGA. In carrying out the research to draft this new strategy, the board has run several workshops up and down the country that have been attended by representatives from more than 250 councils. The work of all these people is reflected in the strategy and our thanks are due to all of them.
The strategy outlines, outlines a governance framework for continuing national and regional collaboration on counter fraud under the Fighting Fraud and Corruption Locally umbrella. Section four of the strategy outlines a practical programme and checklist for individual councils to follow. I am happy to endorse this strategy on behalf of the LGA and welcome it as an opportunity for councils to review and further improve their counter fraud work in the 2020s.
Director of Local Government at Cifas and Secretariat to the FFCL Board
It been an exceptional experience for me to do the research for this and be a part of the team who put the Strategy together. This is the third time I have done this and I have been lucky enough to meet dedicated fraud professionals all over the UK. It is not true to say fraud is not being tackled in Local Authorities and the appetite for this work is demonstrated by the numbers of la staff who have joined the working groups and begun the research for those topics already – before the Strategy has been published.
During the research people kept offering to help or get involved and so I created the ‘Box of Promises’. It’s a list of FFCL activity that will happen during 2020, it shows the good work, collaboration and cross sector partnerships. This will be live in the Knowledge Hub in the next few weeks – where the FFCL Board keeps all our information for la practitioners.
Due to current circumstances some ideas may have to wait but here is a taster of some of those things:
- Mazars will recreate the Schools Fraud Toolkit which was part of the first FFL Strategy - free
- There will be briefings for Audit Chairs on FFCL
- The External Auditors Grant Thornton and Mazars will be briefing Audit Committees on FFCL 2020, and highlighting the appendix on what statutory officers roles are tackling fraud. Massive thanks to Paul Dossett and Karen Murray.
- Durham will run a pilot under the FFCL Banner linking regional enforcement and the Police
- Stoke will run its award winning ‘Spot the Cheater’ campaign
- Meritec will offer discounts to FFCL ‘supporters’
- Smartnumbers will offer a free pilot on contact centre fraud
- Cifas will recreate with Reed its ‘Slipping Through the Net ‘ Insider Fraud guidance
- Many councils have offered good practice and free resources/tools for the Knowledge Hub
- A group of Council will work together to create a free directory and structure tool for all la fraud teams
- One Council will chair a working group on aml issues to feed into the NCA
- And we have a growing number of LA CEO and s151 fraud champions.
And there is more, if you want to get involved you need to contact me and register for the Knowledge Hub group
I need to say thanks to all those who have helped and took the time to talk to me this time around and also to those that supported this initiative from the start, helped set up that first Board ten years ago because without all that we wouldn’t be here today.
Chair of the Fighting Fraud and Corruption Locally Board
It gives me great pleasure to launch the FFCL 2020 Strategy. This Strategy is a document and approach which will take local authorities through the 2020s. It is a testament to the appetite in local authorities for tackling fraud that during the research we were able to kick start activity and we have working groups looking at specific issues, a list of FFCL activity for all 2020, free tools, collaboration between sectors and a renewed and strengthened FFCL Board to support it strategically. Our already existing FFCL Regional representatives will regularly meet as a larger regional group to support the exchange of information to prevent fraud. It is unlikely that this period of sustained incident management and the recovery from it will abate for some months and that will mean that Local Government will be distracted from the normal day to day work around tackling fraud - except we know that you will be ensuring that at this time of heightened vulnerability safeguarding is still our focus. We think it is still important to launch this, as the risk of fraud is heightened and we need to protect the vulnerable and public funds.
FFCL 2020 is endorsed and supported by the Local Government Association, Chaired by a SOLACE member and supported by the Lawyers in Local Government. It is ‘run by the sector for the sector’ and has been self-sustaining for nearly ten years. We believe in cross sector collaboration and are supported by three not for profit organisations who work with Local Government and two External Auditors. We value this support and I must, in particular, thank Grant Thornton and Cifas for their work on organising the conferences and awards. However, this time we have gone further – we now have a Champions Network of Chief Executives and Finance Directors who will support and champion all the work and the approach laid out by FFCL. I repeat it is ‘run by the sector for the sector’, and this ownership is crucial. We cannot do this alone, and so I am very pleased to announce that the FFCL Board are now working more closely with HMG’s Joint Fraud Taskforce, and you will see in the Foreword that the JFT have endorsed this approach along with the LGA.
Chair of the Joint Fraud Taskforce and CEO of Cifas
It’s a pleasure to be asked to introduce this Strategy as a part of the launch the Fighting Fraud & Corruption Locally Strategy 2020. A pleasure, because I have seen, as a Board member of FFCL, the enormous amount of effort that has gone into the development of this strategy and because ten years ago I commissioned the very first local government fraud strategy. I am optimistic because for the first time in many years, those of us who have been banging the drum for fraud to be taken seriously are being joined by others who want it to be acknowledged as a serious threat to the UK. I am also pleased that for the first time the FFCL board will link into the Joint Fraud Taskforce.
We now have the National Economic Crime Centre at the NCA finding its feet and showing leadership around volume fraud and coordinating activity with the City of London Police. There has been a step up in the pursuit of fraudsters and now the Home Office is proposing a Step Change to the Home Secretary with more funding for counter fraud.
The creation of this local government strategy has been informed by an extensive engagement with councils and building on the best practice and initiatives found across the country. We saw first-hand what the challenges are and listened. We also saw a massive appetite for tackling fraud and the desire to innovate. Councils working with one hand tied behind their backs struggling for resources and funding. All over the country we heard about issues with Social Care fraud, and the harm that it can do.
So local councils are the subject of fraud and the guardians of the most vulnerable in our community from fraud. I think that in this strategy – Local Government has taken the harder road - to acknowledge and then to pursue, prevent and protect its communities and its resources from widespread fraud. Not for the first time is local government leading the way and choosing the right path. Let’s hope others follow.