Author: Niall Hearty
19 July 2023
2 min read
The UK government is aiming to save £1.3 billion a year by tackling public sector fraud. Niall Hearty of financial crime specialists Rahman Ravelli assesses the chances of the target being met.
In a bold announcement, the UK government has set itself the target of saving £1.3 billion in this financial year by tackling public sector fraud.
Public sector fraud has been described in a ministerial forward as a fraud that impacts us all, as it affects the quality and quantity of public services, which affects those in society who require the most protection.
The details are outlined in the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) Annual Report and Accounts. If the government achieves this target, it would be a significant increase on the 2022-23 financial year saving of £1.1 billion.
The government has stated that its tightening of fraud controls and checks is resulting in sizeable reductions in the amount of taxpayers’ money being lost to fraud and payments made in error.
The DWP’s Counter-Fraud and Compliance Directorate is focused on identifying and tackling fraud and error at all levels, including situations where serious organised crime is involved and bogus benefit claims.
The newly developed Targeted Case Reviews team is set to review millions of Universal Credit claims over the next five years, in order to identify cases of underpayment as well as those where suspected instances of fraud can be fast-tracked for investigation. It is also providing intelligence on new and emerging ways to identify and prevent fraud and error.
In May 2022, the DWP launched its “Fighting Fraud in the Welfare System” project. This involves investing in DWP’s frontline counter-fraud professionals and data analytics, with an extra £613 million being spent over three years to boost what it calls “frontline defences’’ by 75%. The aim when this announcement was made was to stop an estimated £2 billion of loss to fraud and error over the following three years. The aim for 2022-2027 was to stop a total of £4 billion in such losses. A total of 1,400 extra staff were being placed in counter-fraud teams, with a new 2,000-strong team dedicated to reviewing existing Universal Credit claims and enhanced data analytics being employed to prevent and detect fraud.
With an expert-led focus on developing staff ability across departments, the hope is that a more coordinated approach to tackling this type of fraud will end the haemorrhaging of taxpayers’ money. Given the inadequate public sector fraud prevention over the period of the pandemic, this new strategy can only be welcomed; especially at a time when a cost-of-living crisis is affecting many of society’s most vulnerable.
Niall has a wealth of corporate crime expertise and an ability to coordinate global bribery and corruption cases. His achievements in such investigations have made him a logical choice for corporate clients.