£1 billion lost to fraud and incompetence
Published by Max Salsbury for 24dash.com in Housing and also in Communities, Finance
FraudImage: via Shutterstock
The National Fraud Initiative (NFI) has helped to identify over £1 billion potentially lost to fraud, overpayment or error across the UK.
Established in 1996, the NFI's data includes the prevention and detection of £250m in housing benefit overpayments; 15,000 cases of pension overpayments (worth £450m); and almost 100,000 cases of incorrect council tax single person discounts (worth £160m).
The NFI's activities have also led to the cancelation of 68,736 disabled blue badges and 97,361 concessionary travel passes.
"The NFI is a powerful weapon in the fight to protect taxpayers’ money from fraud. I applaud the commitment of the scheme’s participants. The vigilance of organisations from local councils to central government departments, supplying essential data and investigating potential frauds flagged up by the initiative, has paid off to the tune of £1 billion," said Jeremy Newman, chairman of the Audit Commission.
The Audit Commission’s 17-year-old initiative compares data held by 1,300 public sector and 77 private sector organisations.
These include sister audit bodies in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, government departments and other national agencies.
It flags up inconsistencies in data that potentially indicate a fraud is taking place, and signals the need for a closer investigation.
The initiative helps to detect one-off individual frauds or error, as well as serious wide-scale organised crime.
It helps find patterns in fraud activity that might otherwise be missed at a local level, for example if activities are repeated over a large geographical area or masked by false identities.
The NFI's actions have also seen 321 false applications removed from housing waiting lists and 921 prosecutions for housing benefit fraud.