This document calls for the adoption of a tougher approach to tackle fraud against local councils organised around the three themes of Acknowledge, Prevent and Pursue. The approach demands a new partnership between central and local government. Local government must recognise the cross boundary nature of fraud and adopt the best practice identified throughout this document to tackle the highest fraud risks by sharing data and by conducting a review of the use of powers by councils.
The Annual Fraud Indicator shows that there is £2.2 billion at stake. This includes £900 million in housing tenancy fraud, £890 million in procurement fraud, over £153 million in payroll fraud, £131 million in council tax discounts and exemptions fraud, £46 million in ‘blue badge’ fraud, £41 million in grant fraud and £5.9 million in pension fraud. This is money that can be better used to support the delivery of front line services. Local government is under pressure to make savings and tackling fraud can contribute to that agenda.
Radical changes are underway in the form of local service delivery. The next few years will see major reforms to the welfare system, policing and local government. The change of emphasis from local government being a provider to a commissioner of services changes the risk profile of fraud, as well as the control environment in which risk is managed. More arm’s length delivery of services by third parties in the voluntary and not-for-profit sector and personal control of social care budgets, for example, will mean that more public money is entrusted to more actors, whilst the controls the council previously exercised are removed or reduced. Without new safeguards, preventing, detecting and investigating fraud will become more difficult.
Fighting Fraud Locally outlines a strategic approach that, if adopted across local government, will not only enable local authorities to become better protected from fraud but also contribute to the nation’s ability to detect and punish fraudsters. The new approach will strengthen the counter fraud response across local government and will result in more fraudsters being caught, more fraud prevented and more money returned to authorities.
The local government fraud strategy can be downloaded here