Responding to COVID-19: insight, support and guidance

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 our third annual CIPFA Counter Fraud and Corruption Tracker (CFaCT) survey.

CFaCT gives a national picture of fraud, bribery and corruption in the UK’s public sector and the actions being taken to prevent it.

This year, CFaCT focused on the local government sector. We received a spread of results that enabled us to estimate the total figures for fraud across English, Welsh and Scottish local authorities.

Key findings

  • An estimated 75,000 frauds have been detected or prevented across local authorities in 2016/17 with a total value of £336.2m.
  • The number of fraud cases investigated or prevented dropped in 2017.
  • But the average value per fraud increased from £3,400 to £4,500.
  • Procurement, adult social care and council tax single person discount are perceived as the three greatest fraud risk areas.
  • 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 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.
  • 38% of organisations who responded have a dedicated counter fraud service.

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.

Download the report

The results of the third annual CIPFA Fraud and Corruption Tracker (CFaCT) survey can be downloaded here