Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Barnet Council FOI response - A well trained & properly resourced department is more efficient !

I've had an amazing FoI response from Barnet Council. Firstly it was within the 20 day legal deadline. In fact it was over 12 hours early ! Secondly, it details how when Barnet Council properly resource departments and provide adequate training, the productivity goes up. Sadly they are taking the opposite course with the audit department, despite the fact it was shown to be under resourced during the Metpro audit. Anyway, here is the good news for once. If they applied this strategy to internal audit, who knows how much they might actually save. And congratulations to Councillor Daniel Thomas for getting something right at last

Let's hope they start applying this principle to the rest of the Council.

Dear Mr. Tichborne,

I write with the Council’s response to your request received on 11 October 2011 for the following information:

Please can you supply a summary of cash recovered by the Barnet Corporate anti fraud team (or its equivalent or predecessor dept) by year from 2004- to present, in the format. Should this prove too expensive to provide for the 9 year period, please restrict to the maximum period from the most recent year available backwards to cost less than £450 of supplying this response.
Please also detail headcounts for the period. If figures are unavailable for a particular year please state and provide explanation. These figures should be present in departmental accounts

Year     Amount  Caft Dept Headcount
2004 - £-----        Staff =

Councillor Thomas stated that collection is now improved in this article due to training.

Please use the figures supplied to Councillor Thomas to justify this claim. If these figures are unavailable or inaccurate, please state this and state why.

We have processed this request under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOIA). 


I can confirm that the Council holds the information you are requesting. Please see the table below.  I have been informed that CAFT did not keep a record of recovery prior to 2009.

CAFT-Head Count
3.5 Benefit Fraud Investigators + 2 Corporate Investigators
3 Benefit Fraud Investigators + 2 Corporate Investigators
3.5 Benefit Fraud Investigators + 3 Financial Fraud Investigators
*Please note that the amount for 2011/12 is from April till October 2011and includes the amounts recovered from Bajram Bytiqi (£27,482.84) and Janet West (£21,541.96).

I can also confirm that that the recovery of benefit overpayments is usually dealt with by the Council’s Benefits Service overpayments section, however CAFT have recently become involved in the recovery of benefit overpayments where there as been a fraud investigation, due to the new powers they possess as accredited financial investigators.   

I can advise that in the last two years members of CAFT have undergone intensive training from the National Police Improvement Agency, and are now accredited Financial Investigation Officers. This means that in exercise of their powers under the Proceeds of Crime Act, CAFT Financial Investigation Officers can under certain criteria request that a restraint order be placed on a person, property and/or cash in connection with a criminal investigation.  The advantage of this training is evident in the prompt recovery (in full) of £49,024.80 from Ms West and Mr Bytiqi; this was the first investigation where CAFT investigators exercised the skills acquired since receiving their accreditation.  

Please note that we have not addressed the following element of your request:

Please use the figures supplied to Councillor Thomas to justify this claim. If these figures are unavailable or inaccurate, please state this and state why.

This is because the Council’s obligation under FOIA is to provide recorded information that it holds and we have done this. We are not required to manipulate figures in order to justify claims as stated in your question above. 

Your rights

If you are unhappy with the handling of your request you can ask for an internal review.  Please send such requests to our postal address or to foi@barnet.gov.uk and address them to the “FOI Officer”.  Please also explain why you feel we have not correctly processed your request.

If, having exhausted our review procedure, you remain dissatisfied with the handling of your request or complaint, you will have a right to appeal to the Information Commissioner at: The Information Commissioner's Office, Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow, Cheshire, SK9 5AF (telephone: 08456 306060 or 01625 545745; website www.ico.gov.uk).  There is no charge for making an appeal.

Yours sincerely,

T******* A********
Governance Officer
Corporate Governance Directorate
London Borough of Barnet, North London Business Park, Oakleigh Road South, London N11 1NP
Tel: 020 8*** 7***
Barnet Online:
P please consider the environment - do you really need to print this email?

1 comment:

Ron said...

and the conclusion is that the council spent more on investigating fraud then the recovery of it. 6.5 personals in order to recover £200K . instead of wasting our taxes on propaganda, the clueless Thomas should have used all these wasted expertise on handling correctly the councils contracts, ensuring SLAs and KPIs are really met, and resdients intersts are protected. while recovering this pitness of mony, the council wasting millions of our taxes on the One Barnet program.