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					                                                                      AGENDA ITEM:
                               MERSEYSIDE FIRE & RESCUE AUTHORITY
REPORT TO:                     PERFORMANCE & AUDIT COMMITTEE

DATE:                          25TH MARCH 2010

REPORT NO.                     CFO/051/10

REPORTING OFFICER:             EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF RESOURCES

CONTACT OFFICER:               KIERAN TIMMINS, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF
                               RESOURCES, EXT 4108

OFFICERS CONSULTED:

SUBJECT:                       RESPONSE TO AUDIT COMMISSION REPORT
                               “PROTECTING THE PUBLIC PURSE”


APPENDIX      A       TITLE      “PROTECTING THE PUBLIC PURSE” AUDIT
                                 COMMISSION SUMMARY REPORT

ATTACHED – HARD COPY

Purpose of Report

1.   To consider the contents of the Audit Commission report “Protecting the Public
     Purse” and determine if any additional action is required by the Authority.

Recommendation

2.   Note the contents of this report.

Introduction & Background

3.   The Audit Commission report “Protecting the Public Purse” provides an
     overview of the fraud threats facing councils. The report suggests that there is
     an increase in fraud risk because of the current recession as economic distress
     increases the incentive to commit fraud. The report suggests councils assess
     their counter-fraud measures to ensure they are sound and robust.

4.   The report identifies significant specific areas of high risk:

     •   Housing Tenancy fraud
     •   Claims for Single Person Discount on Council Tax (SPD)
     •   Housing & Council Tax benefit fraud
     •   Social Care direct payments
     •   Disabled Parking
     •   Insurance Claims


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     •   Procurement - corrupt practices
     •   Recruitment Fraud – false or overstated references

5.   Managing the risk of fraud. Most of the high risk areas identified by the Audit
     Commission report are not relevant to fire authorities (social housing, social
     care payments, council tax discounts and insurance claims). The Authority has
     adopted a zero-tolerance approach towards fraud and has a comprehensive
     counter-fraud culture, policies and procedures in place:

     •    A code of corporate governance based on CIPFA/SOLACE best practice
          guidelines (approved by the Authority 18 March, 2008);
     •    Annually approved Financial Regulations, Standing Orders and Scheme of
          Delegation;
     •    Anti Fraud and Corruption Policy & Strategy;
     •    Fraud Response Plan;
     •    Confidential Reporting Policy;
     •    Procurement Strategy;
     •    New Recruit Control Checklist;
     •    New Recruit Probationary review procedure;
     •    Bi-annual fraud awareness notification to all staff via payroll slip;
     •    Annual Governance Statement to Members - a review of the governance
          framework that comprises the systems, processes, culture, values and
          system of internal control that manage the risks the Authority faces;
     •    Internal Audit plan to review the internal control system.

     The Head of Liverpool Internal Audit has also worked with MFRS Officers to
     train a specialist team on how to conduct and carry out investigations into fraud
     allegations. After reviewing the Audit Commission Report’s appendix “Checklist
     For Those Responsible For Governance” The Authority’s governance and
     counter-fraud arrangements are assessed as sound and robust and provide the
     required level of assurance against the threat of fraud.

Equality & Diversity Implications

6.   There are no equal opportunity implications in this report.


Financial Implications & Value for Money

7.   Fraud can cost the public purse significant sums of money.


Health & Safety and Environmental Implications

8.   None arising from this report.




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Contribution to Achieving the Vision

             “To Make Merseyside a Safer, Stronger, Healthier Community”

9.   Sound internal control and governance arrangements help ensure the Authority
     can deliver on its corporate aims.


BACKGROUND PAPERS

“Protecting the Public Purse” Audit Commission report September 2009.




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