Headlines: November 2nd, 2009

A new survey will measure levels of fraud in local public sector organisations. The study launched by the spending watchdog, the Audit Commission will look at the extent of detected fraud and corruption in councils, police, fire and rescue and probation services in England.

The Commission is asking for data from 500 organisations, in an effort to get a detailed picture of the cost of losses caused by fraud. In September in ‘Protecting the Public Purse’, one of its regular updates on its anti-fraud work, it promised annual studies of the problem. The Fraud and Corruption survey is the first of these.

The survey will cover information on areas that tend to be prey to fraudsters. These include the single person discount for council tax, unauthorised tenancies in social housing, fraud in procurement, identity fraud, recruitment fraud and abuse of position or privilege. The survey results will be published in the 2010 edition of ‘Protecting the Public Purse’.

Derek Elliott, Head of the Governance and Counter-fraud unit at the Audit Commission, said: “The more data we have, the more effective we can be in stopping the undeserving from stealing taxpayers’ cash. It has never been more important that councils fight fraud. Every pound lost to cheats is a pound that cannot be used by those most in need.”

Mr. Elliott said the survey results would be used in the fight against fraud and corruption in public services, to raise awareness of fraud and to promote best practice in the public sector.