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Central Government is not doing all that is within its power to tackle the problem of fraud. So warns the fraud prevention trade body Cifas after the release of The Financial sustainability of local authorities 2014 report, by the National Audit Office.
In this report, it is noted that the Department for Communities and Local Government “has a limited understanding of authorities’ financial sustainability” with reference to how local authorities have managed the impact upon services in light of reductions in Government funding.
While the range of pressures faced by central and local Governments will constantly be put under the spotlight and will vary over the years, one issue that has yet to be tackled in a joined-up way is fraud, says Cifas.
Cifas Chief Executive, Simon Dukes, says: “One significant way to ease the pressure on cost, and therefore services, is to tackle the money that is lost to fraud, and has been lost to fraud for years. Whether this is through fraudulent claims for benefits and grants, or frauds committed by insiders, money has effectively been allowed to leave Government unchecked for too long.
“Recent headlines have focused upon the apparent fall in officially recorded crimes, while also drawing attention to numerous perceptions that not all crime is being adequately or effectively recorded. Fraud is one such crime. Nonetheless, the last Annual Fraud Indicator from the National Fraud Authority stated fraud losses of approximately £2.6 billion to central Government and £2.1 billion to local Government fraud. Considering that the scale of losses has been measured, and yet the causes of said losses are not also measured, it has to be concluded that central and local Governments are just not doing what they should to tackle the very serious problem.”
“Solutions exist. Fighting Fraud Locally: The Local Government Fraud Strategy highlighted Cifas’ own Internal Fraud Database as a best practice step to tackle the insider fraud threat. Yet very little real progress has been made. Fraud is anything but a victimless crime and it is certainly not just a private sector issue. This is not local authorities’ money. This is the taxpayers’ hard earned cash that is being lost. Cifas’ message is simple: ’Work with us and let us work with you: that way, the pressure on society can be eased.’”