Headlines: February 1st, 2011

A network of Counter Fraud Champions is being set up in all major government departments to help strengthen the fight against the £21 billion fraud in the public sector.

The new Counter Fraud Champions will lead the fight against fraud and error in their own departments and in the agencies and other public bodies for which the department has responsibility.

Their priorities will include instilling an anti-fraud culture in their organisation, measuring fraud in their departments and publishing the figures for the first time, making sure new policies and programmes are fraud proofed by undertaking fraud risk assessments.

They will also feed into the work of the Government’s Counter Fraud Taskforce which was launched last October, and take forward the Taskforce’s recommendations when it completes its work in the Spring.

Francis Maude, Cabinet Office Minister, said: “Their work will build on the work the Government has already begun to take a tougher stance on fraud. The latest National Fraud Authority estimate shows that 55% of fraud – a massive £21 billion – is committed against the public sector. That’s the equivalent of building 800 secondary schools, or employing over 615,000 nurses and it’s a problem that we are not going to ignore. Ripping off the taxpayer will not be tolerated.”

He added: “Contrary to what many people think, fraud and error is not just confined to benefits and revenue. It affects every Government department and impacts on the Government’s ability to deliver better public services.”