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Saturday, April 20, 2024

£400 million saved for the public purse by national fraud squad

New data from the cabinet shows that the government’s efforts to fight fraud have saved more than £400 million for the public purse.

The latest figures show taxpayers’ money – which is equivalent to healthcare costs for 130,000 people – has been saved by the National Fraud initiative (NFI), bringing total counter fraud savings to £2.4 billion.

The savings were made thanks to cutting-edge software which identifies businesses and people trying to steal public money.

The National Fraud Initiative enables organisations to use data and match records so they can pick up where people or businesses are taking the government for a ride.

Fraudulent activity

Around 42,000 disabled blue badges were also found to be fraudulent.

And there were more than 225,000 cases where discounted travel cards of people who had died or didn’t qualify for concessions have now been blocked.

Around 7,000 people who were clogging up the social housing waiting lists of 102 councils despite not being eligible have been identified and removed, opening up affordable housing for those who need it.

Minister for the Cabinet Office Jeremy Quin said: “British people work hard for every penny and they rightly expect the government to put everything they’ve got into protecting taxpayers’ money.

“Money stolen from the government through fraud is theft from every taxpayer.

“This report shows we saved the taxpayer £443 million. When the country is tightening its belt, the government must do the same.

“We set up a new anti-fraud authority which is designed by and led by fraud experts whose express mission is to take the fight to fraudsters.”

Housing fraud

In one example case study, an individual in Sandwell was offered social housing but then claimed to a neighbouring council that they were homeless and were offered temporary housing. The NFI software allowed this person to be identified – they are now in arrears of almost £100,000.

The fraud clampdown comes after Chancellor Jeremy Hunt announced in the Autumn statement, the UK would set aside almost £80m to tackle fraud.

It also showed 7,000 people had been on waiting lists for social housing despite not being eligible.

Chief secretary to the Treasury John Glen said the government is coming down hard on fraudsters, using cutting edge data to track them and recover public money.

Interim CEO of the Public Sector Fraud Authority, Mark Cheeseman, said: “Every day, people are attacking taxpayer funded services for their own gain. The Public Sector Fraud Authority, where the National Fraud Initiative is now based, is part of a wider investment across government to rise to this challenge.”

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