Headlines: May 20th, 2010

New figures show that the National Fraud Initiative uncovered 215 million pounds of public sector fraud and overpayments during the year 2008-09. It follows the 140 million pounds identified in its previous report covering 2006-07.

Today’s figures mean the NFI, a sophisticated data matching exercise, has helped to detect more than 660 million pounds in fraudulently obtained benefits, pensions and jobs since its launch in 1996. In 2008-09 it helped to trace 183 million pounds of fraud and overpayments in England alone.

The system compares information from 1,300 organisations including local authorities, the police, the NHS and nearly 100 private companies. Data is hosted on a secure website and participants investigate their own matches for possible fraud and overpayments.

The latest report shows that the biggest increase was in single person council tax discount. More councils provided data, helping NFI to detect more than 62 million pounds in wrongful claims, almost five times as much as the sum reported in 2006-07. The NFI also helped track 84 million pounds in pension fraud.

Michael O’Higgins, the Chairman of the Audit Commission, said: “We simply can’t afford to ignore losses to the public purse, especially from fraud. Those who steal benefits, pensions, jobs and homes ought to know the NFI is on their trail, and others who fancy trying their luck should realise they will be caught.”