The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government has published its review into the risks of fraud and corruption in local government procurement.
Produced in collaboration with the local government partners and the Prime Minister’s Anti-Corruption Champion John Penrose MP, it sets out practical examples and case studies showcasing how councils can strengthen their processes and implement prevention measures.
“Fraud and corruption in local government affects every one of us. It is imperative that the money spent on our vital public services gets to those who need it most, yet the COVID-19 pandemic has increased opportunities for criminals to defraud taxpayers everywhere,” said Penrose.
“I’m glad to be able to present this report, which succinctly highlights the challenges we face in fighting an enemy we can’t always see, and shows the excellent work our councils are doing up and down the country to protect our public services.
“It’s an essential and helpful first step, and now we’ve got to get on with implementing its findings.”
Survey respondents report fraud and corruption
Councils in England spend around £55 billion a year on goods, work and services. A survey conducted as part of the review showed 23% of respondents reported fraud and/or corruption in the procurement lifecycle during the 2017 to 2018 financial year.
Local Government Minister Simon Clarke MP said: “Everyone in public life shares a common duty to protect the interest of taxpayers.
“Acknowledging and mitigating the risk of fraud and corruption is critical for sound financial management and to ensuring that every pound spent by councils is used to support the communities they serve. This is true especially at a time when councils continue to work hard in the national effort against the coronavirus pandemic.
“There is no silver bullet, but I would urge all councils across the country to learn lessons from this report and harness the tools it provides to tackle fraud and corruption.”
Local Government Association’s Counter Fraud Hub
The report complements the Local Government Association’s Counter Fraud Hub, said Councillor Peter Fleming, chairman of its Improvement and Innovation Board.
“We will aim to adapt and implement its recommendations through our sector-led improvement workstreams,” he added.
Counter fraud measures must be sufficiently robust to ensure that taxpayers’ money is used as intended and achieves maximum impact, said Rob Whiteman, CEO of CIPFA
This report delivers on a commitment by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government in the UK anti-corruption strategy 2017 to 2022.