One sacked, two resign after fraud investigations at Havering Council

Havering Town Hall

Havering Town Hall - Credit: Archant

Internal fraud investigations at Havering Council have led to one dismissal, two resignations and four disciplinary actions in the space of three months.

A new report reveals that between October and December there were nine successful cases involving staff.

A council spokesman said four of the cases, including the dismissal and the resignations, were as a result of an investigation into allegations the council’s code of conduct had been broken.

The findings revealed the member of staff who was later dismissed failed to comply with the standing orders and financial regulations, contract procedure rules, print strategy and the manager’s guide to responding to a reference request.

They also did not report financial irregularities, giving opportunity for fraud.

Another case resulting in disciplinary action related to misuse of the internet – a breach of IT policy. The outcomes of the other two cases were management action plans.

Cllr Roger Ramsey, leader of Havering Council, said: “We have high expectations of individuals who work for us and will always take appropriate disciplinary action if these are not met.”

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During that period, there were also 84 new referrals of possible benefit fraud, meaning at the end of December there were 246 possible cases being investigated – 74 of which were for people suspected to be living together.

During that spell, overpayments by the council due to fraud totalled £291,671.93. For the whole year, the sum was almost £1.1million.

There were 18 successful cases – six prosecutions, four cautions and eight administrative penalties, which is when the council decides to fine someone rather than prosecute.

Of the six prosecutions, two were for working and claiming at the same time.

One housing tenancy fraud case involved a council tenant who had sub-let her property with her brother, and returned to Rwanda for a year.

The sub-tenant was eventually required to leave after first refusing to do so.

Cllr Ramsey said: “We will always pursue cases if we have evidence that hard working taxpayers have been cheated by people claiming benefits that they are not entitled to.”