New drive to stop fraudsters pocketing public cash

23-03-2016

Local councils, government and counter-fraud professionals today formed a united front against the fraud menace that costs the local services an estimated £2bn a year.

Fighting Fraud and Corruption Locally 2016 is a new strategy designed to keep councils one step ahead of fraudsters. It offers a range of practical measures, from mobile phone apps to interactive data maps, which will make it easier to identify and prosecute fraudsters.

For the first time, corruption has been addressed as part of a comprehensive strategy for local authorities. The aim is to ensure that council staff know how to spot corrupt practice, such as bribery and misuse of position, and feel confident that they will be supported in raising the alarm.

Ian O’Donnell, Chair of the Fighting Fraud and Corruption Locally Board, said:

“It’s vital that councils are alert to emerging risks and get the right defences in place because fraudsters will exploit any weaknesses. This new strategy gives local authorities a clear and decisive set of actions to prevent and detect fraud. I know it will be warmly welcomed by everyone working hard to provide the best possible services for our communities.”

Cllr Claire Kober, Resources Portfolio Holder at the Local Government Association, said:

“Councils work very hard to identify those who are cheating taxpayers, despite facing significant funding reductions in recent years, and will continue to do the best they can to deliver value for money for residents.

“Councils are constantly sharing knowledge about the best ways to tackle fraud. Good work being done across local government, such as recent success in combating tenancy fraud, highlights the value of this approach.

“Local authorities firmly believe it is important to account for every penny of public money and as a sector we are resolute in our determination to stamp out fraud. This updated strategy will provide a useful opportunity for councils to build on this work and review their counter-fraud work.”

Rachael Tiffen, Head of the CIPFA Counter Fraud Centre, said:

“Councils are battling a persistent tide of people who think they can get away with dipping into the public purse. Fighting Fraud and Corruption Locally 2016 brings together a powerful coalition to share knowledge and keep one step ahead of the latest scams. Together, we will make sure the fraudsters get the punishment they deserve.”

Fighting Fraud and Corruption Locally 2016 is published in two parts. The first provides strategic advice for council leaders and chief executives. The second offers a comprehensive practical guide for counter-fraud specialists and frontline staff at local authorities.

As well as highlighting the main fraud threats, the strategy will help boost councils’ ability to tackle new and growing types of fraud in areas including:

  • new responsibilities – areas that have transferred to local authority responsibility, such as public health grants and contracts
  • commissioning of services – including joint commissioning and third sector partnerships – conflicts of interest and collusion
  • immigration – including sham marriages
  • false entitlement to services and payments
  • cyber-dependent crime and cyber-enabled fraud – enables a range of fraud types resulting in diversion of funds, and creation of false applications for services and payments.

Notes to editors

Fighting Fraud and Corruption Locally 2016 is available online. 

Fighting Fraud and Corruption Locally 2016 was produced with funding from the Department for Communities and Local Government. For further information see the press release on GOV.UK.

The production and implementation of the strategy is overseen by the Fighting Fraud and Corruption Locally board, which includes representation from leaders and experts with responsibility for tackling fraud in local government.

For media enquiries contact the CIPFA press office on T: 020 7543 5703 or email E: david.stone@cipfa.org.