Latest review uncovers extra £1 million compared with previous round
The latest National Fraud Initiative (NFI) exercise has been one of the most successful to date – uncovering £5.4 million of fraud and overpayments across public services in Wales, compared with £4.4 million the last time. The Auditor General’s report, reveals that more than £35 million of fraud and overpayments have been found in Wales since the scheme began in 1996.
The initiative, which is carried our every two years, matches data across organisations and systems to help public bodies identify potentially fraudulent or erroneous claims and transactions. The Auditor General collaborates on the NFI with the Cabinet Office, Audit Scotland and the Northern Ireland Audit Office to match data across 13,000 organisations in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
In June 2013, the National Fraud Authority estimated that the annual loss to fraud against the public sector in the UK amounted to £662 million (excluding tax fraud). The current NFI exercise has identified £301 million in fraud and overpayments across the UK.
The Auditor General for Wales has been working in partnership with the Welsh Government, DWP, Cabinet Office and HMRC to extend the scheme and apply data-matching techniques into fraud risk areas not currently within the NFI – in education and housing provision. The early results from these pilot exercises are proving very positive and the outcomes will be reported once the pilots have been fully evaluated.
While all unitary local authorities, police, fire and NHS bodies in Wales are mandated to participate in the NFI, the Auditor General encourages all publicly funded bodies in Wales to participate on a voluntary basis and free of charge.
The success of this latest exercise is down to the hard work of many members of staff within participating bodies who have shown commitment to reviewing and investigating the data matches. However, there is a lot of variability across Wales. As part of the next NFI round, the Auditor General’s auditors will work with participating bodies to help them to maximise the potential benefit that can be achieved through NFI.
Auditor General, Adrian Crompton said:
“I’m proud to support Welsh public bodies in their fight against fraud as it’s not a victimless crime. When fraudsters claim for services and benefits they’re not entitled to, it means that those in genuine need may have to wait longer for services, treatments or help. Uncovering £5.4 million in this latest NFI exercise is a considerable help to public services facing huge financial challenges.”