It appears that hiring illegal immigrants and presiding over general misconduct within the workplace are just the tip of the iceberg for Birmingham City Council, as the Birmingham Post reports the details of just some of the millions of pounds worth of discrepancies presented to the financial audit committee yesterday.
The list includes:
• £37,000 that they continued to pay to a foster carer four years after she ceased to look after children.
• £3,000 lost by a member of staff on collecting petty cash from the bank.
• £2,000 lost from the safe at a children’s home after a member of staff left the key unattended.
• The suspected illegal use of 1,181 disabled badges issued in the names of people who have since died. The badges were used by family members who never handed them back.
• 22,000 people claiming for single person council tax discount when they are suspected of living with another person. This is believed to cost the city £6million-per-year.
All this and deputy leader Paul Tilsley claims that the council deserve credit:
"I think we deserve credit for bringing these, and other internal cases, out into the open. In the past the result of the audit investigations would have been sunk without trace. Nobody would have known about them."
So we must praise them for being honest about their incompetence rather than burying it and keeping their residents in the dark? How any council representative could have the audacity to put a positive spin on these details is astounding.
And if you thought that was it, then you’re wrong. The Birmingham Post report continues:
* The council corporate fraud team concluded 240 investigations in 2006/07 into corrupt practices valued at £3.3 million;
* During the first quarter of 2007/08, 34 investigations into fraud worth £1.2 million were under way;
* The council's own employees were found to be involved in 26 cases involving housing or council tax benefit fraud;
* However, there were only 90 successful prosecutions in 2006/07 and 132 in the year to date;
* Investigations into suspected benefit fraud during the first half of this year uncovered overpayments amounting to almost £2 million, with 2,320 separate inquiries taking place.
But at least they’re honest, eh?