Fraud at council leads to ‘number of staff sackings’

Fraudulent staff at Sheffield City Council were caught stealing cash, lying on expense claims and timesheets, falsely claiming benefits, misusing council vehicles and inappropriately using the internet during work time.

Monday, 17th June 2019, 10:53 am
Sheffield Town Hall

The council said there were 65 cases investigated at the council this year, with some staff sacked but the authority is yet to reveal how many were discliplined or dismissed.

The details were revealed in an internal audit report which the council has to provide every year.

Stephen Bower, finance manager at the council, wrote the report and said: “Each pound lost to fraud represents a loss to the public purse and reduces the ability of the public sector to provide services to people who need them.

“Fraud by its very nature is often difficult to detect. The better the controls that the council has, the more that those wishing to undertake acts of fraud will look to target weaker and more vulnerable areas.

“Sheffield is not complacent and as part of internal audits normal work we look to ensure that where fraud is highlighted as a risk that adequate controls are in place.”

Mr Bower said: “With such a large workforce covering a large number of services there will always be a range of issues.

“In all cases these were dealt with efficiently and following investigations appropriate sanctions were applied where the issues were found to be proven. This resulted in a number of dismissals. In some cases it was also found that there was no or insufficient evidence of fraud for action to be taken. The frauds identified within the council mirror those found nationally.”

Cases also included people ‘abusing’ blue badges. In the past year, 16 people were prosecuted. The cost of each blue badge fraud is estimated at £449 in Sheffield.

Nationally, the cost to central government is estimated to be at least £20.6 billion a year, £2.1 billion of which is related to local government.

The council’s audit and standards committee noted the report at a meeting last night.