Audit, Inspection and Safety

07.01.19

Police urged to intervene in Newham council’s ‘astonishing’ £9m repair division fraud claims after extraordinary meeting called

Newham Council has called an ‘extraordinary meeting’ into allegations of fraud surrounding the council’s £9m-overbudget repairs and maintenance service (RMS) as nine councillors have written to the Metropolitan Police asking that it launch a criminal investigation.

In December, it was revealed that Newham LBC was investigating a catalogue of allegations regarding fraud and financial mismanagement in its department responsible for social housing and road repairs.

A £8.7m overspend has been logged so far in the RMS division, and Newham’s mayor Rokhsana Fiaz recently launched an attack on the previous leadership, saying she was “shocked” by the “scale of financial mismanagement” revealed alongside “astonishing failures of system controls within the RMS.”

A spokesperson for the local authority has now confirmed that an extraordinary full council meeting has been called for 22 January to “enable Newham Council to set the record straight for the people of Newham about matters relating to the repairs and maintenance service that have been raised in the local media.”

They added that those present at the meeting, open to all residents, would be updated on progress made in “dealing with this and other similar matters” as well as plans for future action.

A whistleblower originally exposed the “major” financial issues in the RMS, and staff have now been “suspended or dismissed” with highway repair work stopped whilst an investigation is carried out.

A report found “a number of documented deals” with staff cutting work prices and then using sub-contractors at higher rates.

In a statement, mayor Fiaz said: “The scale of mismanagement in RMS was a clear sign that the mess could only be sorted out under a new administration.

“When I became mayor, what my administration inherited regarding RMS was staggering incompetency at the highest level and frankly, a shambles.

“I can say this because as a former councillor I had lots of casework relating to delayed repairs and maintenance requests by residents, including one woman in Custom House who had an agonising 12-months wait just to get some replacement cupboards for her kitchen done. It was embarrassing.”

Fiaz said that, in line with her agenda for transparency, she is asking legal officers to advise what material relating to the RMS investigation will be put into the public domain.

She added that some “serious questions” about how this situation arose needed to be answered, with experts from CIPFA coming in to give the council a financial health check after already identifying similar issues.

 

Comments

There are no comments. Why not be the first?

Add your comment

 

public sector executive tv

more videos >

latest public sector news

Newham council to set up commission into ‘astonishing failures’ amid £9m fraud allegations

15/01/2019Newham council to set up commission into ‘astonishing failures’ amid £9m fraud allegations

Newham LBC is establishing a wide-ranging commission to review its financial management in the wake of “astonishing failures of system cont... more >
Norfolk council proposes closing 38 children centres in updated proposal following backlash

15/01/2019Norfolk council proposes closing 38 children centres in updated proposal following backlash

Around 70% of children’s centres in Norfolk are set to close despite major opposition to the closures, with Norfolk County Council now prop... more >
Greater oversight of local governance needed as NAO slams government’s lack of transparency

15/01/2019Greater oversight of local governance needed as NAO slams government’s lack of transparency

Oversight of local governance systems must be improved by the government to help councils cope with increasing financial and demand pressures, ac... more >

editor's comment

25/10/2017Take a moment to celebrate

Devolution, restructuring and widespread service reform: from a journalist’s perspective, it’s never been a more exciting time to report on the public sector. That’s why I could not be more thrilled to be taking over the reins at PSE at this key juncture. There could not be a feature that more perfectly encapsulates this... read more >

last word

The importance of openness after Grenfell

The importance of openness after Grenfell

Following the recent Grenfell Tower tragedy, Lord Porter, chairman of the LGA, argues that if the public are going to have faith in the safety testing process then everything must be out in the o... more > more last word articles >
Statutory directions lifted as council’s children’s services ‘vastly improved’

09/01/2019Statutory directions lifted as council’s children’s services ‘vastly improved’

Bromley LBC’s children’s services has had its statutory direction lifted by Ofsted in an “absolutely remarkable” turnaround just two years after inspectors slammed “... more >
Corby council calls for delay to Northamptonshire unitary plans

08/01/2019Corby council calls for delay to Northamptonshire unitary plans

Corby Borough Council has asked for the proposed creation of two new unitary authorities in Northamptonshire to be delayed after the local authority pointed to time constraints, staffing pressure... more >

the raven's daily blog

Bus franchising is the biggest power new mayors have - they should use it

15/01/2019Bus franchising is the biggest power new mayors have - they should use it

It will face opposition at first, but transitioning to a system of bus franchising is the best and only option to truly modernise transport systems across our city regions, argues Luke Raikes, senior research fellow at IPPR North. England’s new metro mayors are slowly reshaping English politics. Next year, the mayors elected in 2017... more >
read more blog posts from 'the raven' >

comment

Government accountability: A year in crises

15/01/2019Government accountability: A year in crises

From Windrush to Univerisal Credit: the Institute for Government’s (IfG’s) accountability lead Benoit Guerin discusses how we can ave... more >
Rethinking public-private partnerships

15/01/2019Rethinking public-private partnerships

Trinley Walker, senior policy researcher at the New Local Government Network (NLGN) considers some different ways of approaching the relationship... more >
Fracking: divest to invest

07/01/2019Fracking: divest to invest

Deirdre Duff, divestment campaigner at Friends of the Earth, takes a look at local authorities’ role in fracking. The fossil fuel indu... more >
Building credit with the public sector

07/01/2019Building credit with the public sector

Mark Morrin, localism lead and principal research consultant at ResPublica, makes the case for salary-deducted lending to sit alongside a broader... more >

interviews

Digital innovation in the public sector: The future is now

17/12/2018Digital innovation in the public sector: The future is now

One of the public sector’s key technology partners has recently welcomed a new member to its team. Matt Spencer, O2’s head of public ... more >
Artificial intelligence: the devil is in the data

17/12/2018Artificial intelligence: the devil is in the data

It’s no secret that the public sector and its service providers need to invest in technology to help make better use of their resources. Bu... more >
New Dorset Councils CEO on the creation of a new unitary: ‘This is going to be the right decision for Dorset’

05/11/2018New Dorset Councils CEO on the creation of a new unitary: ‘This is going to be the right decision for Dorset’

The new chief executive of one of the new unitary authorities in Dorset has outlined his approach to culture and work with employees, arguing tha... more >
Keeping the momentum of the Northern Powerhouse

15/10/2018Keeping the momentum of the Northern Powerhouse

On 6 September, the biggest decision-makers of the north joined forces to celebrate and debate how to drive innovation and improvement through th... more >

public sector focus

View all News