Tackling fraud - time to revisit your strategy
It’s been over a year since Eric Pickles, communities secretary, published his top ten tips for tackling local authority fraud. Now is a good time to revisit your strategy to check where you are and see how you measure up.
Fraud awareness training will enable your people to spot and prevent frauds before they occur and give you a better indication of risk.
Building a bespoke counter-fraud strategy and fraud risk register will enable a proportionate response. Consider using datamatching, as many frauds are identified through anomalies and patterns in data.
Fraud risk changes over time and collaboration with other organisations can help you identify new fraud risks before they come to your area. Housing tenancy fraud makes up £900m of the losses in the public sector. Attention and resources need to deployed according to the level of risk to ensure emerging threats are addressed while at the same time traditional areas of abuse do not suffer.
Procurement is the second most likely target for fraudsters (after finance). With scarce resources, it is critical that these are directed on a risk-based approach at the areas that will bring the best return on your investment.
Working in partnership is a key component in tackling fraud. Many fraudsters are operating in organised rings and only by liaison and closer working can a co-ordinated response be developed.
Having a team of professionally trained investigators is not always a feasible option, especially in times of austerity. However, if you do not have either an in-house team or a call-off arrangement in place, there is a very realistic chance that investigations will be conducted unlawfully and evidence gathered will be dismissed by the courts.
The CIPFA Red Book 2 ‘Managing the Risk of Fraud’ is an excellent document against which you can benchmark your organisation’s counter-fraud capability and governance arrangements.
It has long been held as an ‘industry standard’. By following its guidance, you will adopt a comprehensive approach to reducing your fraud losses to an absolute minimum.
John Baker, partner, RSM Tenon
COLUMN SPONSORED AND SUPPLIED BY RSM TENON
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