Home Help for families Parent carer participation Grants & monitoring Fraud advice for parent carer forums
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Action Fraud (the UK’s national reporting centre for fraud and cyber crime) states that “fraud is when trickery is used to gain a dishonest advantage, which is often financial, over another person.” Fraud can be committed against individuals and organisations.
As an organisation Contact is aware that parent carer forums are vulnerable to fraud from time to time. This can be in the form of internal fraud, committed by someone within the forum; or external fraud, by people that may not be directly involved in the forum.
Although fraud or misuse of funds is not a common occurrence, it is something that all forums need to be aware of, take steps to protect against, and combat. It is important to take fraud seriously as a parent carer forum. By taking immediate action, you will help to protect individuals in the forum, and the forum itself, allowing it to continue its good work.
We believe the best way to counter fraud is through education. If a forum is better informed, it will be able to put measures in place to prevent fraud from occurring and to spot it quickly if it does happen.
Parent carer forum committees or steering groups are responsible for managing public money effectively and for putting appropriate policies and safeguards in place to protect it.
Forums are accountable to both their membership and the DfE. They must spend the grant money wisely to maximise their positive impact on the development of services for families of children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) in their area.
If your forum needs support with budgeting, planning or any other aspect of managing the grant or running the forum, talk to your parent carer participation adviser.
We don’t expect forums to take on all this information and guidance overnight. You should be continually working towards implementing these common-sense steps to protect public money and your forum’s members.
We recommend that all new forum members* and any forum staff familiarise themselves with the forum’s policies and procedures, including the finance and fraud policy, as part of their induction process.
* who will either be involved in the forum’s financial procedures, are employed staff, or who will claim expenses or remuneration from the forum, make purchases on the forum’s behalf, or who has a potential conflict of interest.
For further information about managing the DfE’s parent carer participation grant, see our grants page and supporting documentation:
Your forum also has complimentary access to Community Matters for specialist advice on Governance and legal matters.
Below we’ve put together some useful resoures for forums that are available online.
Most of these materials focus on ‘charities’, and although not all forums are charities, the resources are still relevant. It is important that you read the materials to understand the potential risk of fraud to your forum and to incorporate elements of what you learn into your forum’s financial policy.
Parent carer forums are organisations in receipt of public money, and the expectations upon them will be very similar.
To get started, here are some key points presented by the Charity Commission (UK government) in October 2019.
1. Fraud will always happen – simply being a charity is no defence
2. Fraud threats change constantly
3. Prevention is (far) better than cure
4. Trust is exploited by fraudsters
5. Discovering fraud is a good thing
6. Report every individual fraud
7. Anti-fraud responses should be proportionate to charity’s size, activities & fraud risks
8. Fighting fraud is a job for everyone
Download the Guiding Principles for Tackling Fraud – October 2019 [PDF].
Small Charities Guide to Preventing Fraud
We recommend that forum committees/steering groups read the excerpt from ‘Small Charities Guide to Preventing Fraud”: How to protect your charity from fraud, pages eight to 14.
Develop an anti-fraud policy
Review your fraud policy annually
Communicate your fraud policy to all staff, volunteers and trustees
Trustees (committee/steering group) need to know their legal duties
Communicating about your work to combat fraud
Develop a whistleblowing policy
Using expense claim forms
Making financial decisions
Common types of fraud to look out for:
See below for resources that will support your understanding of how to protect your forum, and its members, from fraud:.
Invoice Fraud – April 2019
A factsheet from the Fraud Advisory Panel explaining what invoice fraud is, how to detect it, what the warning signs are, and what actions to take. It encourages groups to trust their instincts. “If you think something is suspicious, it probably is.” Forums will find this particularly useful and relevant.
Your Group’s Money
Information and tips to help your whole community take responsibility for looking after your group’s money. Includes lots of easy-to-follow and practical advice. A key point that is highlighted is that “finances are the responsibility of the committee and members not just the treasurer!”
Financial rules are your community group’s agreements about how it will look after its money. As well as helping your group to function better, financial rules show funders and other bodies that your group is looking after its money well.
Protect Your charity from fraud and cyber-crime
Information about fraud and cyber-crime, how to spot it and what you can do to protect against it.
General Resources – Fraud
Useful list of links connecting to resources relating to fraud produced by including:
Preventing Charity Fraud – October 2019
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