Wirral Council say police are “fairly confident arrest will be made fairly shortly” in £45k care home fraud

Wirral Council say police are “fairly confident arrest will be made fairly shortly” in £45k care home fraud

Wirral Council say police are “fairly confident arrest will be made fairly shortly” in £45k care home fraud


This story is an update to an earlier blog post headlined Wirral Council reveals how fraudsters conned them out of £45k. Video of this part of Wirral Council’s Audit and Risk Management Committee starts at the beginning of agenda item 6 and continues at the next clip for a further fifteen minutes. The report into this item is available to read here.

Mark Niblock (Wirral Council’s Chief Internal Auditor) said to those at the Audit and Risk Management Committee meeting, “Since the report was written we have had further contact and we’ve undertaken further investigations with the banks concerned and their fraud teams and we’ve managed to identify a number of account holders residents in the South of England. Active names and addresses of active accounts that’s been passed on to the Metropolitan Police and they are fairly confident that an arrest will be made fairly shortly. That may or may not lead to some of the monies may … be recovered. They did say progress had been made.”

Joe Blott, Strategic Director of Transformation and Resources in answer to questions from councillors, “it’s important to note that whether it’s error or negligence or anything else, that I have authorised that an appropriate internal disciplinary investigation does take place” and later added, “just to clarify just in terms of that internal disciplinary investigation, it does cover more than one person”.

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Cllr Steve Foulkes “I daren’t pick on the libraries because of my past”

Cllr Steve Foulkes “I daren’t pick on the libraries because of my past”

Cllr Steve Foulkes “I daren’t pick on the libraries because of my past”


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Cllr Steve Foulkes had this to say about the Internal Audit update and its appendix presented to the Audit and Risk Management Committee, which starts at 20:20 in the video above.

He said, “Yeah, well I mean this report is good and it’s followed every month by the updated report on work that’s going on and I’m glad this work’s going on, but I think audit and risk can be a pretty dull committee for its old hands but I think what we should always try to do is put what we’re learning and what we’re investigating back into the real world in many ways.

If you look at the report around the libraries, and I’m not going to go into a debate about that, I’ve got too many scars over that. However, however, I need to be reassured that this isn’t an aspect of the service either because of the changes that have to be made or changes that are coming about or just a general poor management that’s taken place because often things like this are not just a symptom of poor regulatory or financial issues but are lack of morale, lack of motivation, lack of care in the service or a feeling perhaps sometimes of you know well ‘we’re untouchable, nothing else will happen’.

We’ve got twenty-four libraries, I think that the decision has been made that those assets are vital assets and the community have made an opinion about them, but at the same time they have to be run extremely efficiently, like every service that we have to justify what they’re doing and we’re asking them to take on more and more.

There’s no reason why the libraries shouldn’t be part of the front line sort of places where people do business and have trust in. So I’m just sort of saying that this has been investigated. If it’s a general malaise or a general lack of management or misunderstanding then certainly you know we are combining one stop shops with libraries, they are coming more along and if we’ve got twenty-four, there again we’d better make sure we get every single pennies worth of value out of them for the future. So I’m, what I would like to do on this is committee is actually use the audit in a broader way to draw attention to what is happening with the rest of the Council.

Likewise in 2.2, the Invigor8 direct debit, one of the ways the Council needs to become more efficient is encourage more people to do things like that with direct debit, the most you know quickest, cheapest form of transaction. So if 100% of the population did everything by direct debit, there would be considerable savings, so when we have a direct debit system that undermines public confidence in the Council and how it delivers those systems it makes alarms bells ring a little bit more in my head and says, ‘Come on, you know we can’t, we’ve got to be so spot on.’

We are actively, I hope actively tempting people to use and address Council services in the cheapest way for us and therefore protect more services that are not available. So I like to look underneath the headlines of you know, we made a mistake there some people I believe got £400 debit as opposed to a £40 debit. How many people will they have told about that? How many people will they say, ‘Don’t do a direct debit with the Council, they get it wrong!’

So my view is that you know these points can’t just be brushed over and say oh well it’s just you know librarians can’t manage money, well they have to if that want to work for the Council. Anybody has to manage money efficiently and our job of the audit is to see those signals and ask some more searching questions about what’s going on underneath.

You know if I just read that one particular site and I’m not saying this now I’m picking on the libraries, I daren’t pick on the libraries because of my past but as I say we’re asking them to become more front line, more proactive if they need to understand anything else. So I’m asking those questions, maybe Mark on my behalf could ask one of the heads of service who might be able to understand what’s going on on the ground.”

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Audit and Risk Management Committee 26th November 2012 Part 1 Highway and Engineering Services Contract

Audit and Risk Management Committee 26th November 2012 HESPE (Highways Engineering Services) Contract

The Chair of the Audit and Risk Management Committee started the meeting with a one minute silence for two councillors who had recently died.

There were no declarations of interest and the minutes of the meeting held on 19th September were quickly agreed.

The first item was the report on the action plan in response to the District Auditor’s report into the Highway and Engineering Services Contract. Colin Hughes informed the Committee that it had been presented to Cabinet on the 18th October.

Councillor Foulkes asked for assurance that Wirral Council was in communication and there was a dialogue with the people who had blown the whistle on the contract?

Colin Hughes replies that he had not been involved personally but could make enquiries. David Armstrong said that when he had been Acting Chief Executive there had been a continuing exchange between himself and the whistle-blower.

Cllr Brighouse referred to Recommendation 14, he wanted them to spend more time looking at implementation which in the past he thought they hadn’t done as well at.

Cllr Abbey thought the timescale of January for Recommendation 20 (the review of Internal Audit) was not much time to get councillors involved.

Mark Niblock, Deputy Chief Internal Auditor said there was currently a review into the effectiveness of Internal Audit and the actions taken to address issues. Following the review a report would be brought back to the Audit and Risk Management Committee.

Cllr Abbey referred again to recommendation 20.

Peter Timmins said in order for councillors to be informed, there was preliminary work that needed to be done. He told them that they were currently sharing a Chief Internal Auditor with Liverpool City Council, who was working with their deputy Chief Internal Auditor Mark Niblock. Mr. Timmins said that they didn’t want to get sidetracked with detailed discussions, which were quite technical, but next month they would produce proposals and anything councillors raised would be answered.

Cllr Sullivan said that it worried him when he said it was too technical for the councillors, he said it was important that the councillors scrutinise before decisions were made. He said he had concerns that the scrutiny committees get reports on serious stuff, but all the decisions had been made and was concerned by being told it’s a bit too technical for councillors.

Peter Timmins responded that they would be bringing recommendations to the Audit and Risk Management Committee, he wanted to translate it out of “audit speak” and their intention was to engage fully and not to hide.