Agenda and minutes

Finance and Corporate Services Select Committee - Wednesday, 1st March, 2023 7.00 pm

Venue: Committee Room 6 - Civic Centre, High Street, Uxbridge UB8 1UW. View directions

Contact: Mark Braddock  Email:

No. Item


Apologies for Absence


Apologies were received from Councillor Richard Lewis, who was duly substituted by Councillor Shehryar Ahmad-Wallana.


Declarations of interest in matters coming before this meeting


There were no declarations of interest in matters coming before this meeting. 



Minutes of the previous meeting - 8 February 2023 pdf icon PDF 334 KB


Cllr Mathers raised the point in the minutes regarding the submission of comments on the Cabinet Forward Plan prior to the meeting in the interests of transparency.


RESOLVED:  That the minutes of the meeting held on 8 February 2023 be agreed as a correct record.


To confirm that the items of business marked as Part I will be considered in Public and that the items marked as Part II will be considered in Private


RESOLVED:  That all items of business at this meeting be considered in public. 



Counter Fraud Overview Report 2022-2023 pdf icon PDF 214 KB

Additional documents:


The Chairman welcomed an interesting discussion ahead on the Counter Fraud Service and informed Councillors that they should be watchful of enquiring about the specifics of ongoing cases, or the tradecraft used to combat fraud given that the meeting was public.


The Head of Counter Fraud started by outlining the comprehensive approach to the fraud universe within Hillingdon. He briefly introduced his colleagues from the Service to the Committee, who would later brief Councillors on operational matters within their remit.


The importance of the 3-year Counter Fraud Strategy was explained first, which set out the four main principles for the service: firstly, partnership and engagement, which sought to communicate with services and create a counter-fraud culture; secondly, prevent, detect, pursue and deter, which was the cornerstone of the strategy; thirdly, innovation and modernisation, which sought to embrace new technologies; and finally, a risk based approach, in order to triage cases and enable resources to be deployed to most important areas, informing the annual work programme and ultimately the Fraud Risk Register.


In respect of the annual work programme, the Head of Counter Fraud informed Members that this would include criminal, civil, disciplinary investigations,  proactive projects to target areas of risk and also verifications, which was noted as unique to Hillingdon, where the service assesses a persons’ eligibility for certain services, including through data matching, in order to preventing fraud from entering the system in the first place.


The Committee was told how the service measured its success, which were in different ways, including key performance indicators which were reported upwards, benchmarking across other London boroughs and importantly, a financial loss prevention target each year, which was set by the Corporate Director of Finance and Cabinet Member and stood at £3.5m for the current year. It was noted that the service had actually exceeded this target with £10.7m of loss prevention to-date.


Providing more detail to Members, the individual Counter Fraud Managers present outlined the structure of their teams and their service responsibilities, which covered:


·         revenue and benefits investigations citing, for example, activity to ensure an £5.7m of business rates were secured by visiting premises and ensuring records and billing are up to date;

·         the data analysis unit which acted as the core of the service with referrals to it, and the ability to analyse and match data on cases, in conjunction with the London Fraud Hub, which enabled the provision of real-time information;

·         housing investigations, which covered housing applications, right-to-buys and verification of them prior to being accepted, along with investigating illegal subletting referrals and non-occupation of properties, which has helped bring much needed housing accommodation back into use;

·         outreach to residents through campaigns, such as the key amnesty last year;

·         investigations into fraud loss and error across social care, including section 17 cases and direct payments which were often complex in nature, along with blue badge fraud and;

·         consultancy reviews across Council services to support fraud risk mitigation and any disciplinary matters so required.


The Chairman thanked the officer  ...  view the full minutes text for item 60.


Update on the Implementation of Recommendations - Performance Monitoring and Reporting Review pdf icon PDF 161 KB

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The Head of Business Performance introduced the report setting out progress delivering on recommendations from a previous scrutiny review by the Corporate, Finance and Property Select Committee in 2021, adopted by Cabinet. The previous committee’s review had been on how the Council processes, reports and makes use of data. Going through the individual recommendations, it was noted that:


On performance reporting to the Corporate Management Team (CMT) and Cabinet Members, progress had been made, with a regular report to CMT, but the metrics reported would vary due to priorities or pressures that emerge mid-year, for example recently introduced were performance data on mould within council housing properties following the review into the tragic death of Awaab Ishak.


It was further noted that KPIs and metrics would be evaluated further in light of the new Council Strategy adopted in 2022 to ensure both Councillor and residents can measure progress on the Council’s priorities. Cabinet Members would be signing off the metrics reported to them via their Directors, such as around social care or complaints and Members’ Enquiries.


The Head of Business Performance made mention of the significant amount of data that could be reported upwards, but that there was need to ensure the right ones were selected for quality assurance purposes, statutory returns such as to the Department for Education, but also to ensure benchmarking with other local authorities, such as using the housemark initiative, so the Council could measure its performance amongst peers. Furthermore, an additional piece of work was to look at performance data in terms of inspection outcomes, such as those by Ofsted and Youth Justice Board.


With respect to another recommendation from the review around select committee reporting, it was explained that this would take place with high-level updates reflecting the committees’ terms of references, but that progress had been delayed due to the adoption of the Council Strategy. It was advised that work would take place with select committees to ensure KPIs presented to them were relevant and aligned to the reporting to Cabinet portfolios.


On the recommendation around performance culture, it was explained that there was a lot of work being done with services to improve data quality and to be proactive in ensuring they enter information in the right way. Workshops and training sessions were being held along with regular meetings with senior management teams.


The Chairman remarked how the right data can help support and direct organisations. An example of this was given by the Head of Performance relating to where schools often struggle with their data input, which in turn has impacted on the number of children becoming eligible for free school meals. Therefore, it was noted the service was proactively working with Headteachers on such matters.


On the final recommendation around performance innovation, the Head of Business Performance noted that the Council was a little behind the curve in terms of the performance tools that were being deployed, but that he had taken a paper to Corporate Management Team on options  ...  view the full minutes text for item 61.


Cabinet Forward Plan pdf icon PDF 136 KB

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The Senior Democratic Services Manager outlined the items under the Committee’s remit on the Cabinet Forward Plan over the coming months, along with an additional item added on a HR agency contract in recent days.




That the Finance and Corporate Services Select Committee noted and commented on items going to Cabinet.



Work Programme pdf icon PDF 161 KB

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On the Committee’s work programme, forthcoming information items were noted including on the new Members’ Enquiry system, Contact Centre and HR digitalisation.


The Chairman noted that the next meeting would encompass the final witness session on the procurement review, which he hoped would be forward-thinking and an opportunity for the service to tell the Committee what they would like to do, in order to submit findings to Cabinet.


In respect of other topics to consider at future meetings, the Chairman put forward the proposal for an item on transformation and change management and how staff have taken to change. It was advised this would perhaps best first encompass the Council’s learning and development service and how the Council invests in its staff and the skills they receive.


A Councillor suggested the Committee received an item on Treasury Management, so Councillors could gain a better understanding of the task that the finance team undertake in this regard, along with an item on the Business Improvement and Delivery Team and how they work in the delivery of the savings targets which are reported to Cabinet monthly.


Finally, the Chairman remarked about how committee members may wish to think about the areas they would wish to see performance indicators on, to perhaps delve into them in more detail and report back to the committee, once the new reporting regime was established.




That the Finance and Corporate Services Select Committee considered the Work Programme and agreed to include the following as future information items:


1.    Staff skills, learning and development;

2.    BID transformation work to deliver savings;

3.    Treasury Management.