Headlines: May 30th, 2000

The Audit Commission has revealed a powerful new technique for cross-checking data. It has used the technique to uncover 41 million pounds worth of fraud in local authorities and other public bodies.As well as detecting fraud, the system has been able to help claimants for benefits who had been denied payments due to faulty data.

The Audit Commission also predicts that straightening out data will result in considerable future administrative savings.

As part of its National Fraud Initiative (NFI) 1998 the Audit Commission ‘matched’ data supplied by over 400 councils and police and fire authorities in England and Wales as well as contributors such as the Civil Service Pension Scheme, NHS Pensions Agency and the Contributions Agency.

It works by identifying data ‘matches’ – instances whereby data appears on different systems – which indicate that a fraud may be occurring.

‘A Perfect Match: report of the 1998 National Fraud Initiative’ is the first report on the progress being made by councils and other bodies in the detection of fraud through the NFI.

It indicates that use of the new technique has increased the value of detected fraud to 41 million pounds from 15 million pounds previously.

The biggest single area of fraud was housing benefit, which counted for 15 million of the total.

Approximately 1,000 cases of fraud were detected where occupational pensions were still being paid after the death of the pensioner. In NFI 2000 the Commission will build on this success by including more public sector pension funds in the data matching process.

‘A Perfect Match: report of the 1998 National Fraud Initiative’ is available from Audit Commission Publications on 0800 502030, priced 10 pounds.