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Swansea council reveals numbers of employees dismissed or warned

A SMALL number of council employees in Swansea have been dismissed following investigations by the in-house fraud team.

Six members of staff were sacked in 2019-20 out of 34 cases, some of which had been brought forward from the previous year.

Among other sanctions and outcomes, six employees were given warnings, six were given advice, one resigned, and 10 investigations remain ongoing.

Allegations included theft, abuse of position, expense fraud, false accounting, secondary employment and abuse of flexi-time.

The numbers involved are a tiny fraction of the council’s huge workforce.

The details were contained in a report before the council’s audit committee, which heard about other work being carried out by the two-man fraud team.

“Swansea is one of the few authorities that puts money into (counter) fraud,” said fraud investigator Jonathon Rogers.

The team looks into council tax and social housing tenancy fraud, and also operates jointly with the UK Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).

Their work overall identified more than £235,000 of overpayments in 2019-20 – £232,000 of which were a result of joint DWP work – with eight cases referred to the Crown Prosecution Service.

The fraud team will be checking grants, like business rates grants, handed out in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

Mr Rogers and his colleague Jeff Fish were thanked by audit committee members for their efforts, despite being such a small team.

In July the Auditor General for Wales, Adrian Crompton, said he wanted all councils and the Welsh Government to submit coronavirus-related grant and payment data to a national fraud initiative.

Mr Crompton said fraud was one of the most prevalent crimes, and cited instances this year when fraudsters tried their luck in south Wales communities devastated by flooding.

“However, some senior public sector leaders are sceptical about the levels of fraud within their organisations,” his report said.

“As a result, they are reluctant to invest in counter-fraud arrangements and assign a low priority to investigating cases of potential fraud identified to them by the national fraud initiative, even though there are many examples of a good return on investment in this area.”

Mr Crompton said counter-fraud work was more established and structured in NHS Wales.

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