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The council operates through a formal written constitution setting out its rules and procedures.
Details of council spending for amounts of £500 or more. The council is committed to transparency in all of its dealings and the publication of spending information enables residents to challenge how council money is spent.
The council is run by 46 councillors (sometimes referred to as Members) who are elected by the local community. Councillors are responsible for making decisions on behalf of the local community about local services and budgets, including the level of the council tax set by the district council. Each councillor represents an area within the district – known as a ward - and serves for a period of four years.
Councillors are not paid a salary, but they are entitled to allowances and expenses to cover some of the costs of carrying out their public duties. All councillors abide by a code of conduct, part of which requires them to declare any financial interests, gifts or hospitality that could influence any decisions they make.
You are entitled to request information the council keeps, under freedom of information, data protection and environmental information regulations. Details of the kinds of information available and how to make a request are available through the link above.
The Freedom of Information Act is intended to promote a culture of openness and accountability in public authorities by giving people the right to access the information held by them.
These access rights help the public understand how public authorities carry out their duties, why they make the decisions they do and how they spend public money. There are some legal exemptions form that right however.
Details of the kinds of information available and how to make a request are available through the link above.
The Data Protection Act protects information held about you by organisations such as Newark and Sherwood District Council. You can apply to view the information the council holds about you.
The Environmental Information Regulations 2004 (EIRs) give a general right of access to all the environmental information held by the council. Details of the kinds of information available and how to make a request are available through the link above.
Elected councillors decide on the key policies of the council. Paid employees (referred to as council officers) put those policies into practice and are responsible for the day-to-day running of the council’s business. Details about the council's senior officers, including pay levels, are included here.
The council employs 400+ staff including refuse collectors, planners, environmental health officers and many others responsible for a wide range of services for the local community. By law, senior council staff are not allowed to participate in any party political promotion and are expected to advise and assist all councillors.
Since 1996 the Audit Commission has run the National Fraud Initiative (NFI), an exercise that matches electronic data within and between public and private sector bodies to prevent and detect fraud. This includes police authorities, local probation boards, fire and rescue authorities as well as local councils and a number of private sector bodies.
The exercise that was undertaken in 2010/11 helped trace almost £229 million in fraud, error and overpayments in England. Since the initiative's start in 1996, the programme has helped identify £939 million in fraud or error.
At Newark and Sherwood District Council we are still in the process of investigating some 380 matches relating to Council Tax out of nearly 800 identified in the last initiative. So far 11 of those investigated have been classed as fraud together with an error that resulted in an overpayment of £7,000.
For the last round of Housing Benefit matches 1 has been classed as fraud, which resulted in an overpayment of £4,166. A further 7 errors were identified, these not treated as fraud, involving overpayments of £17,653.
The use of data for NFI purposes continues to be controlled to ensure compliance with data protection and human rights legislation.
Newark and Sherwood District Council is required by law to protect the public funds it administers. On occasions the information we hold may be shared with other bodies, such as those responsible for auditing or administering public funds, in order to prevent and detect fraud and for other lawful purposes.
The Audit Commission appoints the auditor to audit the accounts of the Council. It is also responsible for carrying out data matching exercises.
Data matching involves comparing computer records, usually containing personal information, held by one body against other computer records held by the same or another body to see how far they match.
The purpose of a data matching exercise is to allow potentially fraudulent claims and payments to be identified. Where a match is found it indicates that there is an inconsistency which requires further investigation. No assumption can be made as to whether there is fraud, error or other explanation until an investigation is carried out.
The Audit Commission currently requires us to participate in a data matching exercise to assist in the prevention and detection of fraud. We are required to provide particular sets of data to the Audit Commission for matching for each exercise, the data we are required to provide is set out in the Audit Commission’s guidance.)
The use of data by the Audit Commission in a data matching exercise is carried out with statutory authority under its powers in Part 2A of the Audit Commission Act 1998. It does not require the consent of the individuals concerned under the Data Protection Act 1998.
All Data matching undertaken by the Audit Commission is subject to a Code of Practice which sets out how the data matching exercise is carried and puts in place certain safeguards in relation to the personal information collected during the exercise.
For further information on the Audit Commission’s legal powers and the reasons why it matches particular information, see www.audit-commission.gov.uk/nfi/fptext.asp.
For further information on the Audit Commission’s legal powers and data matching, see the Level 3 Privacy Notice at www.audit-commission.gov.uk/fraud/nfi/pages/fair-processing-notice.aspx or contact the Head of NFI on 0844 798 2222 or email email@example.com
For further information on the data matching exercise at Newark and Sherwood District Council, please contact the Information Governance team or Phil Ward, Revenues and Benefits Business Manager on 01636 650000.