Councils detect and prevent £336.2m worth of fraud


In 2016/17 local authorities detected and prevented 75,000 fraud cases, saving the public purse £336.2m, according to figures released today by CIPFA, the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy.

The third annual instalment of CIPFA’s Counter Fraud and Corruption Tracker (CFaCT), which this year focused on the local government sector, also revealed the three greatest fraud risk areas for local government: procurement, adult social care and council tax single person discount.

  • An estimated 40% of all fraud committed against local authorities concerns abuse of the procurement cycle, with an estimated value of £6.2m in losses per year.
  • Adult social care fraud has shown the largest growth in the past year, with an estimated £5.6m investigated cases, compared with £3.0m in 2016.
  • The highest number of investigations related to council tax fraud (76%) with a value of £25.5m.
  • The highest value area of fraud is housing with an estimated total of £263.4m.

Overall, the number of fraud cases dropped in 2017 (compared with 77,000 cases in 2015/16); however, the average value of each fraud increased, from £3,400 to £4,500, which shows that fraud continues to pose a major financial threat to local authorities.  

Peter Wilson, Director of Counter Fraud at CIPFA, said:

“Across local government, each pound lost to fraud represents a loss to the public purse and reduces the sector’s ability to provide services to the people who need them. CIPFA’s CFaCT report is a stark reminder of the scale and breadth of the fraud threat, but it is also a useful indicator of where resources should be directed for us to tackle the problem head on. 

“The more we discuss fraud and the more information we share about where fraud is happening, the better we will all be at stamping it out. Our public services are already under tremendous financial pressure and so it is crucial criminals are not allowed to syphon cash away from where it is needed.”

Alongside the 133 councils across England, Wales and Scotland that responded to the survey, CIPFA has been working with partners such as the LGA and the Home Office, to reveal an emerging picture of resilience and innovation within the sector – demonstrating that the sector is aware of the difficulties it faces and is finding solutions to the challenges. 

The report also highlighted an increase in collaborations and shared services when it comes to tackling fraud. Increased delivery with reduced resources is the context in which fraud teams are operating. It is therefore unsurprising that the proportion using shared services has increased from 10% to 14% in a year. 

Notes to editors

The CIPFA Fraud and Corruption Tracker 2017 is available online

The CIPFA Fraud and Corruption Tracker is based on survey responses from 133 local authorities, including councils, police and crime commissioners, transport authorities, fire and rescue authorities, waste authorities and public agencies. Survey data has been used to generate estimates of fraud nationally. The tracker is designed to help local authorities identify fraud risks and improve detection rates and is supported by the National Audit Office, the National Crime Agency and the Local Government Association.

The CIPFA Counter Fraud Centre was launched in 2014 to lead and co-ordinate the fight against fraud and corruption across local and central government, and the health, education and charity sectors. Working in partnership with City of London Police, the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG), the National Crime Agency (NCA), Cabinet Office, NHS Protect, the National Audit Office (NAO) and other agencies, it offers training and services to help organisations detect, prevent and recover fraud losses.

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