15 October 2004
The national fraud initiative that has been operating in England and Wales is to be extended to Scotland, it was announced this week.
Audit Scotland will work with the Audit Commission in developing the initiative, first introduced south of the border in 1996.
The extension follows a pilot scheme estimated to have saved the Scottish public purse up to £8m, Audit Scotland said.
Alastair MacNish, chair of the Accounts Commission, responsible for the audit of Scottish local authorities, said: 'The introduction of the national fraud initiative to Scotland later this year will help to ensure that public money is spent properly.'
The pilot scheme compared public sector pension records with a government register and identified 199 occasions when pensions were being paid although the recipient had died. Pension overpayments of £720,000 were also identified.
According to Audit Scotland, the pensions would have continued to be paid for some time if the data matching had not taken place.
The initiative in Scotland will become part of the public sector audit process and will compare records held in different parts of the sector to identify inconsistencies, errors and potential fraud.
Public sector employees are being targeted as the data will be readily available. Computerised checks will help to identify potential fraud, such as an employee who has not declared an income when claiming benefit.