The Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy (CIPFA) has found that fraud continues to pose a major financial threat to local authorities, with £302m detected or prevented by councils in 2017/18.
While this was £34m less than last year’s total, the CIPFA Fraud and Corruption Tracker (CFaCT) report revealed an overall increase in the number of frauds detected or prevented – up to 80,000, from the 75,000 cases found in 2016/17.
Among these cases there are reminders of some of the challenges being faced by local authorities, with the number of serious or organised crime cases doubling to 56, and a significant increase in the amount lost to business rates fraud, which jumped to £10.4m in 2017/18 from £4.3m in 2016/17.
While CIPFA commends the efforts of counter fraud teams and local authorities, with multiple reports suggesting fraud costs local government anywhere from £2.1bn to £7bn every year, there clearly is more work to be done in this area.
Rob Whiteman, Chief Executive of CIPFA, said:
“Fraud is a serious issue for local authorities. We must collaborate to combat it and adopt a cross country strategic approach if we are to make serious inroads in the fight against fraud.
"Fraud deprives the government of the vital resources it needs to provide public services. When local government is running on empty – as it is now – it needs to preserve every last drop.”
You can read the CFaCT report on the CIPFA website.