Agenda item

Corporate Anti-Fraud Service Annual Report - 1 April 2021 to 31 March 2022


Andrew Hyatt (Head of Fraud) presented the report detailing work undertaken by the Corporate Anti-Fraud Service for the period 1 April 2021 to 31 March 2022.


Councillor Florian Chevoppe-Verdier noted he couldn’t find the Council’s whistleblowing policy on the H&F website. He then asked how long it took on average to recover the 22 properties mentioned in 4.20 of the report and if the Council received a share of the fraud identified through the National Fraud Initiative (NFI). David Hughes (Director of Audit, Fraud, Risk and Insurance) explained that the whistleblowing policy was primarily aimed at staff and contractors and was available to them on the Council’s intranet, though he would look into adding to the public site too.

ACTION: David Hughes


In response to his second point, Andrew Hyatt said the Council didn’t receive a share of NFI fraud. The Council received money back through proceeds of crime orders or unlawful profit orders. But he noted that H&F were looking to join a smaller London hub to match data across the area monthly instead of every 2 years through the NFI. That data could then be used in frontline services to provide an additional layer of protection.


Councillor Chevoppe-Verdier noted there were cases where people were sub-letting flats from tenants who no longer lived in the borough – and asked if they knew it was illegal. Andrew Hyatt said some people were tricked into believing they were dealing with a genuine landlord while others were complicit.


Councillor Paul Alexander asked how many vacancies there were in the fraud team, and many officers were due to retire in the following few years. Andy Hyatt said there were no vacancies, but the team was looking at bringing in apprentices to pass on knowledge to the next generation of fraud officers. The team was also developing a business case to build more capacity.


Councillor Alex Sanderson (Cabinet Member for Children and Education) noted that 269 blue badge parking permits had been cancelled in the past 12 months and asked if that was a high figure compared with previous years. Andrew Hyatt said those figures were produced for the NFI and represented a 2-year period, and it was during the pandemic, so the number of deaths were likely to be higher than usual.


The Chair asked why the ‘fraud proved’ figure in the table at 1.7 jumped from 94 to 131. Andre Hyatt said work in 2020/21 was largely desk based due to the Covid pandemic which affected the figures. During that period the team was focused on business grant verification. In 2021/22 the team moved back to pre-pandemic areas of work. The court backlog also slowed the team down because cases were delayed. The eviction ban also had an impact on the ability to detect tenancy fraud.


The Chair asked if officers expected the figures to return to previous levels over the next few years. Andrew Hyatt said he did.


The Chair noted there had been no new referrals via the Council’s whistleblowing policy since April 2021. He asked how many there had been in the years prior. Andrew Hyatt said it had been small numbers – around 2 to 3 a year. He said he would highlight the policy to staff.


ACTION: Andrew Hyatt


Councillor Rowan Ree (Cabinet Member for Finance and Reform) asked if the Council was covered by the public interest disclosure act. Andrew Hyatt said it was, staff coming forward would be protected and their confidentiality would be maintained. It was important to give staff the confidence to come forward.




1.    The Committee noted and commented on the report.


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