Doncaster Council uncovers two 'significant frauds' in borough schools

Doncaster Council has said it has uncovered ‘two significant frauds’ within schools run by the local authority in the last three years, documents show.

Tuesday, 4th May 2021, 1:32 am
Updated Tuesday, 4th May 2021, 1:33 am
Students in class

Bosses, in a recent audit report published last week, said that a ‘significant financial issue’ was uncovered in a school.

Back in October 2020, another report revealed a headteacher raised concerns around the ‘financial conduct’ of one of their staff.

A full audit investigation was undertaken by Doncaster which identified ‘unusual transactions and other anomalies’. The mentions in both reports are linked to the same incident.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Civic Office of Doncaster Council

Bosses in the most recent audit report added that work is being undertaken on ‘two bank account schools’ to see if this affected other schools in a similar way.

Internal auditors said that most local authority-run schools have ‘not been audited in eight to ten years’.

In the recent DMBC Counter Fraud Report, officers said schools ‘remain at risk’ of fraud and added that ‘austerity measures have been seen in back office and administrative based activities’ which have been ‘cut hardest over the last five years’.

Bosses said these cuts to administration staff ‘minimise the opportunity’ for traditional segregation of duty based financial controls’, with many schools having just one person regularly involved in cash handling and banking with ‘little opportunity for other involvement’.

Nicola Frost-Wilson, internal audit manager at Doncaster Council, said: “Two significant frauds have been uncovered in schools run by the council in the last three years, one of which remains in progress at the date of this report.

“Two schools are included in the linked Internal Audit Plan but further work is likely needed in this area to ensure that control environments in place are suitable to protect these establishments.

“Work is being undertaken on two bank accounts (in two) schools to determine whether the issues and poor practices found in the investigation are also affecting other schools.

“The findings from these audits will be used to inform the audit plan for future work in this area.

“This review aims to add value by ensuring that significant issues that lead to unacceptable financial losses at a school, are isolated and that other schools are not at risk of similar incidents.

“This work is undertaken as part of the Internal Audit commitment to ensuring learning from significant issues and to protect the council and its services.”

*

In these confusing and worrying times, local journalism is more vital than ever. Thanks to everyone who helps us ask the questions that matter by taking out a subscription or buying a paper. We stand together. Liam Hoden, editor.