Hertfordshire County Council staff disciplined after fraud allegations

The Hertfordshire County Council offices in Stevenage, where the shared anti-fraud service is based.

The Hertfordshire County Council offices in Stevenage, where the shared anti-fraud service is based. Picture: Google Street View - Credit: Archant

Three members of staff have been disciplined or dismissed from the county council or from Herts schools following allegations of fraud this year – and a further case has been passed to prosecutors.

In total, 14 allegations of fraud against county council staff have been reported to the 'shared anti-fraud service' this year, of which six remain under investigation.

These allegations were highlighted to the county council's audit committee on Friday, December 6 as part of a report into the ongoing work of the shared anti-fraud service.

In the first half of this year the committee heard the service has received 94 allegations of fraud relating to county council services - compared to 172 in the whole of 2018 to 2019.

According to the data, more than half of the allegations made to the service related to blue badges, while others related to adult care, schools or payroll. Of the 27 fraud cases that have been both investigated and closed so far this year, losses or savings of £85,000 have been identified.

However of the 113 cases that are still under investigation, it is estimated that the loss or savings could amount to more than £1 million.

The report to the committee said the council had received a number of fraudulent claims for damage to vehicles on council roads, or personal injury on council land or property.

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The service also detected fraudulent claims for council tax discounts, that could have cost the county council, and the district and borough councils, a total of £100,000.

At the meeting it was reported to councillors that fraud could be costing local authorities a combined total of more than £2 billion a year nationwide. Fraud against councils can be focused on areas such as blue badge misuse, housing, council tax, insurance claims and school admissions.

As well as investigating and prosecuting fraudsters, the committee heard the service also undertakes deterrence and prevention work.

The service - based at the county council offices in Stevenage - brings together a team of 18 counter-fraud staff.

As well as focusing on Herts county council, it also includes district and borough councils in North Herts, East Herts, Broxbourne, Stevenage and Hertsmere.