Agenda item

To answer questions asked by the public under procedural rule 7.7


A question was received as follows:


“What plans do the council have to safeguard its financial funds against the risk of fraud?”


Response by Cllr Clarke:


Fraud is the most commonly experienced crime in the UK, and costs many billions of pounds every year. The impact of fraud and related offences can be devastating, and victims of fraud ranges from vulnerable individuals to smaller businesses, and to major corporations, as well as the public sector including central government.  

Here at Gedling, like many councils across the country, fraud comes under the remit of the Audit Committee.

The Audit Committee is a key component of Gedling Borough Council’s corporate governance.  It provides an independent and high-level focus on the audit, assurance and reporting arrangements that underpin good governance and financial standards.

The purpose of the Audit Committee is to provide independent assurance to the Council of the adequacy of the risk management framework and the internal control environment. It provides independent review of Gedling Borough Council’s governance, risk management and control frameworks, and oversees the financial reporting and annual governance processes. It oversees internal audit and external audit, helping to ensure efficient and effective assurance arrangements are in place.

The Audit Committee has many responsibilities, but three key functions are as follows:

-          To consider reports on the effectiveness of internal controls and monitor the implementation of agreed actions.

-          To review the assessment of fraud risks and potential harm to the Council from fraud and corruption.

-          To consider and monitor the counter-fraud strategy, actions and resources.

As Councillors and officers of Gedling Borough Council, we each have a responsibility to be continually aware of the potential for fraud, to ensure that effective controls are in place to prevent and detect fraud, and to report any suspicions that we may have.  This equally applies to all contractors, suppliers and other internal and external stakeholders who have a business relationship with the Council.

The Council is committed to reducing fraud, bribery and corruption, and to the promotion of high standards of conduct, to ensure that funds are used as they are intended. The Council has a zero tolerance stance and will seek the appropriate disciplinary, regulatory, civil and criminal sanctions against fraudsters and where possible, will attempt to recover losses.

Referring back to the question, ‘how does the council safeguard its financial funds?’ the Council currently has several measures already in place:

-       We have an approved ‘Counter Fraud and Corruption Strategy’, which sets out the Council’s approach to combat fraud, bribery and corruption around seven key themes: culture, deterrence, prevention, detection, investigation, sanction and redress.

-       We have a ‘Whistleblowing Policy and Procedure’ under which any disclosures or allegations of serious wrongdoing can be reported.

-       All staff at the Council are expected to complete an online fraud awareness training course.

-       We employ BDO as our Internal Auditors who report to every Audit Committee on their progress with the current Audit Plan, and their findings and recommendations resulting from their review of services, and the effectiveness of internal controls.

-       We also have Mazars as our External Auditors, who audit the accounts and provide opinions on our value for money arrangements.

-       All of these come under the remit of the Audit Committee which has cross party representation.

-       Our Constitution sets out the Council’s position in terms of Members’ Code of Conduct, Declarations of Interest, Financial Regulations and Contracts and Procurement Rules.

And finally, the Council has a dedicated fraud awareness page for staff on its intranet, and also provides a page to report any possible fraud on its internet.