Responding to COVID-19: insight, support and guidance

Competence is key


We’re exploring the six key themes identified in Fighting Fraud and Corruption Locally 2016-2019 in a series of articles to mark International Fraud Awareness Week.

Following on from the closely-linked concepts of capacity and capability, in this article we take a look at competence.

Competence hinges on whether a local authority has the right skills and standards in place to help stop fraud and corruption.

A new skills landscape

As highlighted in the Fighting Fraud and Corruption Locally companion document, the launch of the Department for Work and Pensions Single Fraud Investigation Service (SFIS) has had a marked impact on local authorities.

While a significant step forward in the fight against welfare benefit fraud, the transfer of numerous counter fraud practitioners from within authorities to the SFIS has left some authorities at risk of not having sufficient resources available to tackle other non-benefit, corporate and local frauds.

When consulted on the 2016-2019 strategy, various authorities reported that:

  • staff did not always have the skills or training to tackle fraud and corruption
  • they would need to recruit new staff or transfer existing staff into fraud-related work in the light of the SFIS
  • they didn’t necessarily have budgets to train their staff to tackle new areas.

These issues will not easily be resolved but the strategy makes it clear that post-SFIS, “it’s more important than ever to have a common set of standards for those working in counter fraud and for employees to have proper training and an understanding of the whole picture within the counter fraud landscape”.

This means that if auditors undertake counter fraud work they too must be properly trained. As fraud and corruption cases become increasingly complex, it is no longer enough to transition into a counter fraud role without adequate training, accreditation and guidance.

Building competence

For over 130 years, CIPFA has delivered training to finance professionals and public service leaders in the UK and across the world. Our full range of counter fraud and corruption qualifications is extensive and aims to equip local authorities with the necessary skills and knowledge required. We deliver:

  • Accredited Counter Fraud Specialist (ACFS)
  • Accredited Counter Fraud Technician (ACFT)
  • Accredited Counter Fraud Technician Social Housing Fraud
  • Certificate in Fraud Risk Management

Our ACFS and ACFT courses are accredited by the Counter Fraud Professional Accreditation Board. 

We also offer a range of one-day training courses that carry continuing professional development (CPD) points.

As John Rosenbloom, former Chair of CFPAB, explains in the companion document: “To respond to the continuing threat of fraud, it is essential that organisations have access to specialist counter fraud capabilities, able to conduct reactive investigations effectively, and advise on preventative and deterrent measures to minimise risk.”

It is important that local authorities work with an approved provider; given the current landscape, professional counter fraud and corruption training and accreditation are now must-haves rather than nice-to-haves. 

The rise of the counter fraud professional

As fraudsters have become more sophisticated, there are signs that counter fraud professionals are following suit.

The availability of a clear, well-established qualification route means many of those working in counter fraud are now career focused and driven to become competent, professionally accredited counter fraud specialists, trained to a high standard.  

Where to go for advice

We advise local authorities and other organisations on their training needs. To speak to a member of the CIPFA team telephone 0207 543 5600 or email us at