Headlines: April 2nd, 2012

Central government culture needs to change if loss through fraud is to be reduced.

Government loses some £31b annually through fraud and error, but a survey of 800 civil servants commissioned by SAS found that tackling fraud is not high on the agenda. The total number of officials claiming to have received no anti fraud and error training over the last 12 months was as high as 73%. Of those who had not received any training, nearly half said they would have found it useful.

Nearly half of those questioned were unsure whether their department had carried out an investigation into fraud over the last 12 months, and this was only slightly lower among the senior grade sample. For investigations into error, the results were slightly better, but 44% of respondents still lacked awareness of their agency or department’s approach to the issue. Results did show however that there have been slightly more investigations into error over the past six months than there have been for fraud.

Graham Kemp, head of public sector at SAS said: “As it stands, fraud and error represent a huge black hole in the government’s balance book, If the government wishes to realise its vision of an all-pervasive, sustained, zero tolerance culture to fraud and error across the public sector, civil servants will first need to better understand exactly how their departments are already tackling fraud and error, and have the right training and incentives to ensure that they can build on this. Only when this happens will Whitehall be able to end the ‘pay first, check later’ attitude to fraud and error, and turn the wasted billions into real money which can be used to improve public services.”