Ashfield District Council is upping its game against fraud which could be costing it £1.8 million a year

NMAC10-2465-2''Kirkby Ashfield District Council Offices
NMAC10-2465-2''Kirkby Ashfield District Council Offices

Ashfield District Council is launching a new anti-fraud policy after it was revealed Benefits and Council Tax fraud is costing at least £440,000 a year.

But the figures could be the tip of the iceberg with the authority being estimated to have a possible total fraud exposure of £1.6 million.

In 2014/15 benefits and council tax support cost the council £440,000 and more than 900 people were found to have claimed Single Persons Council Tax discounts totalling £260,000.

Some employees have been subject to disciplinary action where dishonesty has been discovered.

The Government has published estimates suggesting an exposure of as much as £1.6 million a year for an authority the size of ADC.

The fraud figures were revealed in a report by Richard Gaughran, interim internal audit manager. He said: “The council has a duty to protect the public money that it controls from loss due to dishonesty.

“It also has a duty to provide assurance to the people of Ashfield to its employees that it is taking this responsibility seriously.”

He said The council already has a zero tolerance approach to fraud but the new measures would enhance its ability to detect and deal with it.

Measures include ensuring periodic training sessions are given to all employees whose duties include ordering and paying bills managing debtor accounts petty cash and collection accounting for council money. Fraud awareness refresher courses will be delivered to all employees and regular fraud awareness training to revenue and benefits teams.

Anti-fraud awareness training will be given for councillors to develop their understanding of the part they can play in alerting management to local people’s concerns.

ADC’s whistleblowing policy will become more effective. There will be changes to the council website so anyone with genuine concerns will know how to raise them with the council comfortable that it is safe.

Better matching techniques will be used to uncover cases of Council Tax Fraud. There will be aggressive pursuit of debts arising from fraud, including recovering debt from dishonest employees from superannuation.