Be aware or be defrauded

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Fraud awareness continues to be a hot topic in the public sector and, ahead of European Data Protection Day on Wednesday 28th January, we decided to take a closer look at training for this area.

Putting in place preventive fraud measures as well as training staff on how to detect cases of fraud has become more urgent since anti-corruption legislation was incorporated into the Public Finance Management Act (PFMA), Treasury Regulations and the Public Service Act.  Yet fraud can be a difficult crime for police to monitor and prosecute so the responsibility of preventing crime is falling to councils themselves.

Fraud awareness is particularly important for staff working in the Benefits Department, the most common target for would be fraudsters.  The DWP estimates that £110 Million was overpaid to those of working age by councils between April 2007 and March 2008, as a result of Non-Residence. 

Did you know that we have free e-learning on Housing Benefit Error, commissioned by DWP, for all UK councils? See www.learningpool.com/housingbenefiterror

Other potential hot spots for fraud can be found in procurement policies and human resources departments.  Failure by staff to handle confidential information correctly can also leave an authority vulnerable to fraud, with such cases resulting in the bad PR we’ve seen in recent times.

We teamed up with Delta-Net International to bring our subscribers an Information Governance e-learning package to help meet the training requirements contained in the Governments Code of Compliance and the Data Handling Guidelines.  Click here for guest access to two of the courses.

Given the various areas where fraud can occur it’s wise to ensure e-learning is available to all local authority staff, including part-time and temporary staff.  Such e-learning need not be too in-depth but should cover:

• possible ways the council can be defrauded
•  approved procedures to follow if/when fraud is expected
• who the correct person is for staff to report their concerns to

Further, more comprehensive, e-learning can be created for managers.  Adding in a well publicised Fraud Prevention Plan, if your authority has one, can act as deterrent to would be perpetrators and shows you’re taking an active stance against this crime.

 Learning Pool subscriber, Devon County Council has, already developed e-learning on Fraud Awareness for Managers.  Robert Hutchins, Deputy Head of Internal Auditing for the Council, says “The Learning Pool authoring tool allowed us to develop a short but comprehensive introduction to our anti-fraud and corruption policies and also helped us raise awareness with staff by quoting figures on how fraud affects each and every one of us.’’

Devon’s e-learning course has been shared back into the Learning Pool course catalogue and is now available to LP subscribers to repurpose.

Kingston upon Hull Council, another LP subscriber, has also implemented Fraud Awareness e-learning recently and Bournemouth Council hopes to follow suit.

And it doesn’t have to cost a lot, either, says Bournemouth’s Lorraine Squires.  “We will use the Learning Pool Authoring tool to create our own fraud awareness training in house.  We then plan to roll it out via our DLE, allowing us to overcome the excess costs involved in hiring an external company to create and host this e-learning module.”  The DLE’s reporting function also makes monitoring learner progress and completion of the course easy.
Share your experiences and advice on fraud awareness in our discussion forum. 

Please contact us if you think we should develop further e-learning on this topic or if you would like to take advantage of our talented Instructional Design Team to re-purposing existing content for you.

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2 Responses to “Be aware or be defrauded”

  1. Lorraine Squires Says:

    Hi

    This has made me aware of the free DWP module we can have access to. Can we link from the DLE and then get management info on users etc. Does it have an ‘expiry’ date of being available freely to councils. Once I have this info then we’d possibly be interested in communicating this through our benefits teams.

  2. Andy Sorton Says:

    Hi Lorraine,

    Thanks for your interest in the Housing Benefit Error course commissioned by the DWP. This is part of a national project, and the next review meeting is in June 09.

    We will continue to host this on the Learning Pool DLE, so whilst you won’t be able to access usage statistics through your own DLE, the Learning Pool Support Team would be happy to provide usage statistics for your Council, on request.

    This training will be available through our DLE for the next 3 years, so please do promote the use of this to your benefits team.

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