‘Trailblazing’ councils save millions working with government counter fraud squad

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Minister Neville-Rolfe has this week convened counter fraud experts representing 13 local authorities across the country to share best practice in the fight on fraud.

It comes as data reveals the local authorities represented at the meeting saved taxpayers over £3.6m across the most recent reporting year, 2022-23, through their work with the Public Sector Fraud Authority’s National Fraud Initiative.  

The National Fraud Initiative is a large-scale counter fraud data matching service run by the Public Sector Fraud Authority, which compares data provided by public bodies, including some local authorities, to identify anomalies that may indicate fraud has been committed. 

Local authorities represented at the meeting include Hertfordshire, West Northamptonshire, and the City of London. They were invited in recognition of their significant work with the National Fraud Initiative. 

The most notable areas of savings delivered were in relation to fraud prevented by removing ineligible individuals from social housing waiting lists and pension fraud where individuals have been obtaining the pensions payments of deceased persons. 

The counter fraud experts also discussed further achievements, including the Shared Anti-Fraud Service (SAFS) hosted by Hertfordshire County Council, who worked with the NFI to bring together data from eight councils across Hertfordshire and Bedfordshire using the NFI FraudHub service, to identify fraud or loss that could then be recovered.

Minister Neville-Rolfe said there was more work to be done, and encouraged attendees to find even more ways to cooperate to identify criminals stealing taxpayer money. 

The Minister also announced the expansion of the membership of the PSFA-led Community of Practice as now open to all local authorities. The Community of Practice is a knowledge and advice sharing forum for counter fraud experts across central, and now, local government, enabling greater collaboration and collective action in the fight against public sector fraud. 

Minister Neville-Rolfe, DBE CMG, said:

It is essential that public sector organisations continue to work together to keep taxpayer money safe. Today’s meeting allowed me to thank trailblazing local authorities setting the standard in fraud prevention and recovery. We need to share this best practice across local government and deter and target criminals seeking to steal from the public purse.

Mark Cheeseman, OBE, said:

Local authorities are on the front line of the public sector’s fight against fraud. But all too often, fraud remains a hidden crime. That’s why the National Fraud Initiative is so important. It helps it helps a wide range of public bodies to proactively use their data to find and prevent fraud.

Councillor Bob Deering, Executive Member for Resources and Performance, Hertfordshire County Council said:

Our Shared Anti-Fraud Service works day in and day out across the county to ensure that public funds are not misused. Their stellar work with partners from across the public sector just last year resulted in millions of pounds being saved. 

I’m really pleased to see councils working together with government to identify areas where safeguards can be strengthened and where best practice and knowledge can be shared. 

Only by working together across the public sector and with residents and business can we bear down on those who seek to abuse taxpayers and the public’s money.

The full list of participating authorities and councils included:

  • City of London Corporation
  • City of Westminster
  • Hertfordshire County Council
  • Liverpool City Council
  • London Borough of Islington
  • London Borough of Richmond upon Thames
  • London Borough of Wandsworth
  • West Northamptonshire Council
  • Veritau representing: 
  • North Yorkshire Council 
  • City of York Council 
  • Middlesbrough Council
  • Redcar and Cleveland Borough Council
  • Cherwell District Council

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