This report requests that Council adopts the proposed Counter Fraud and Corruption Strategy.
This report requested that Council adopt the proposed new Counter Fraud and Corruption Strategy.
The report advised that while the Council had already had an Anti-Fraud and Corruption Strategy in place for a number of years, it had not been updated for a significant period and did not reflect current best practice. In view of this, a full review had been undertaken.
The proposed new Strategy had been designed to incorporate the five pillars of activity outlined in the new best practice guidance as well as reflecting the Council’s approach to combatting fraud and corruption.
The new draft Counter Fraud and Corruption Strategy had been considered by the Audit Committee on 18 March 2021 and its comments and recommendations to Council were set out at section 4 of the report. Comments of the Chief Finance Officer, which had been included in the report in response to discussion at the Audit Committee, were set out in section 5 of the report.
A Member asked whether there could be assurance that the Council would be in a position to support the process in relation to an ongoing police investigation associated with Kyndi Ltd (formerly Medway Commercial Group Ltd). The Chief Legal Officer said it was anticipated that an update would be shared with Members in the coming weeks and that the Head of Audit would be picking up the related work.
The Portfolio Holder for Business Management, Councillor Rupert Turpin, supported by the Portfolio Holder for Education and Schools, Councillor Potter, proposed the recommendations set out in the report.
a) Noted the comments of the Audit Committee set out in section 4 of the report.
b) Agreed to delegate authority to the Chief Finance Officer to in consultation with the Portfolio Holder for Business Management, make the following amendments to the draft Counter Fraud and Corruption Strategy:
i) Update the introduction section of the strategy document to include Medway Subsidiary Companies in the list of individuals and bodies that the strategy is relevant to.
ii) Replace references to the ‘Whistleblowing Policy’ or ‘whistleblowing’, within the strategy to instead reference the ‘Speak Up Policy’ and ‘speaking up’, in order to ensure consistency.
c) Subject to the amendments set out in recommendation b) being made to the Strategy, adopted the proposed new Counter Fraud and Corruption Strategy, as set out at Appendix 1 to the report.
Councillors Adeoye, Bowler, Curry, Howcroft-Scott, Johnson, Khan, Maple, Murray, Price and Andy Stamp requested that their votes in favour of the decision be recorded in accordance with Council Rule 12.6.
To seek the Audit Committee’s comments on the proposed Counter Fraud and Corruption Strategy prior to submission to Full Council for adoption.
This report sought the Committee’s comments on the proposed Counter Fraud and Corruption Strategy prior to submission to Full Council for adoption. The Head of Audit and Counter Fraud Service explained the background to the review of the current Policy following a review of ethics at Gravesham and the CIFAS publication of the Fighting Fraud and Corruption Locally Strategy 2020 and the rationale of developing a new Policy which could be adopted by both Medway and Gravesham which would help the Shared Service as it would only need to have regard for one Policy.
Member training and training for staff – it was commented that further Member training on counter fraud and corruption would be beneficial. The Head of Audit and Counter Fraud Service that he was willing to provide further Member training on this and he undertook to liaise with Democratic Services on this matter. He also explained that ICT were currently rolling out a system called “Meta compliance” which ensured the policies were read and agreed by staff.
Further discussion took place about how these issues could be embedded within the culture of the Council, such as staff induction and the Head of Audit and Counter Fraud Service undertook to raise this matter with the Head of HR.
Third parties – in response to a question as to whether third parties the Council entered into contracts with would be required to sign up to a code of conduct (an example from Dudley Metropolitan Borough Council was cited), the Chief Legal Officer advised that he was confident that the Council did require third parties to enter into a code of conduct and that he would check this outside of the meeting and would confirm the position with the Committee.
Scope of the Policy – in response to a question as to whether wholly owned subsidiaries should be included in the list of bodies the Strategy was particularly relevant to (page 85 of the Agenda refers), the Head of Audit and Counter Fraud Service explained that they were separate companies so this was not something that he could necessarily include in the Strategy, however, he would have a further discussion with the Chief Legal Officer.
Whistleblowing – in response to a question to a reference to whistleblowing being included in the document (page 94 of the Agenda refers), the Head of Audit and Counter Fraud Service confirmed that the Speak Up Policy had been referenced throughout the document, however, he would undertake a further review of the Strategy prior to submission to Full Council.
Benchmarking – in response to a question around benchmarking, the Head of Audit and Counter Fraud confirmed that he responded to the CIPFA benchmarking survey. It was noted that Members would like to see a copy of the latest benchmarking report.
The Committee recommended the proposed Counter Fraud and Corruption Strategy, as set out at Appendix 1 to the report, to Full Council for adoption.