November 27, 2023
The UK Government’s National Fraud Initiative is looking into a number of local authority employees who have been caught ‘moonlighting’ while they were supposed to be working from home for the council. The NFI considers this a form of fraud because it is seen as working multiple contracts without the knowledge of employers and contrary to their terms of employment. Multiple contract working is seen as fraud when people who are paid to work full time, split their days between two or more employers without their knowledge.
Having uncovered evidence of fraud in Enfield, Wakefield and Kensington and Chelsea, the NFI is now assessing the potential scale of the problem nationwide. The Cabinet Office which oversees the NFI claims that the surge in the numbers of people working from home – coupled with higher prices – has made the allure of a second income difficult to resist.
Earlier this year Kensington and Chelsea Borough Council published a report into the incidence of multiple contract working fraud in its workforce. It concluded that: “The pandemic created this risk when it normalised working from home and hybrid working. While this increases flexibility, it also creates new types of risks when during a cost of living crisis, a second income becomes very alluring.”
In Enfield, five people were found to have been working second jobs without the council’s knowledge. Three people in Wakefield are currently under investigation.
Just last week, the government announced it wanted senior civil servants to work from the office for at least 60 percent of the time as a way of increasing the amount of time they spent working with junior colleagues. Similar guidelines are in place for new starters and across the civil service.
A Cabinet Office spokesman said: “The National Fraud Initiative matches and compares pieces of data provided by private and public sector organisations to identify fraud cases. Last year, its work delivered savings of £171 million for taxpayers.
“One of the types of fraud cases the National Fraud Initiative has identified includes multiple contract working, where an individual misleadingly works in two roles at the same time, including at local councils.
“The Public Sector Fraud Authority, which oversees the NFI, is working with organisations to fight this kind of fraud wherever it occurs.”