At a ceremony at Admiralty House in London yesterday evening, counter fraud work from central and local government, the NHS and devolved administrations was rewarded in recognition of the importance of fighting fraud in its many forms.
The inaugural awards ceremony was co-hosted by CIPFA’s Counter Fraud Centre along with the Cabinet Office and the National Crime Agency.
Winners included Department of Work and Pensions, Liverpool City Council and Revenue and Customs, whose joint project Operation CHEESY was recognised as the outstanding recovery solution. An initiative from HMRC’s fraud investigation service, the revenue commissioners of the Republic of Ireland and Police Service of Northern Ireland, won the outstanding collaboration award. Meanwhile, NHS Scotland Counter Fraud Services Team won the excellence in fraud prevention award.
The counter fraud and corruption team at King’s College Hospital NHS Foundation Trust won the outstanding internal fraud initiative award, while the National Trading Standards Scams Team was recognised for excellence in fraud awareness.
Speaking at the event, Cabinet Office minister Chris Skidmore highlighted that it is estimated that £29bn-£40bn is lost to central government every year through fraud and error.
“The loss we know about and actively measure is in areas such as tax, welfare and healthcare fraud. We all have a significant role to play in developing new and innovative ways to tackle this problem,” he said.
Preventing and detecting fraud loss is therefore critical to helping the public sector savings.
“I am really proud to be here with you all to celebrate your great work, it is especially pleasing that it is from such a diverse range of organisations across the public sector,” Skidmore added. “What you do day in day out to tackle fraud head on means that taxpayers can have more of their money going into essential services and that the likelihood of fraud is reduced. You set the tone in your organisations that fraud must be found and dealt with. This is what we are here to recognise this evening.”
Rachael Tiffen, the head of the CIPFA Counter Fraud Centre, highlighted the importance of the awards. As scams get more sophisticated, there was an urgent need for better defences against fraud, particularly against cyber fraud.
“The Government Counter Fraud Awards are an excellent opportunity to recognise and celebrate those organisations, teams and individuals who are working tirelessly to weed out public sector fraud in all its many forms,” she stated.
“By shining a light on the issue, I hope these awards act as a reminder to businesses and public bodies of the importance of training highly-skilled counter fraud professionals, who can unpick complex finances, navigate legal issues and use technology and psychology in their investigations.”
Lesley Hume, the executive director of the fraud error, debt and grants function at the Cabinet Office’s Security, ICT & Programme Office, said the awards have been established to celebrate innovation, dedication and achievement across the public sector in the fight against fraud. “We still have a long way to go in finding more fraud and reducing its harm, but the dedication of the nominees and winners tonight demonstrates that the public sector is up to this challenge,” she added.
Donald Toon, director of the NCA’s Economic Crime Command, said fraud against both the public and private sectors has been identified as major national crime threats, which required a strong, collaborative response.
“The Government Counter Fraud Awards are a valuable showcase of what can be achieved through public sector efforts to combat fraud in its many guises,” he stated. “We congratulate the award winners and all of those nominated, and hope their work encourages other organisations to strengthen their counter-fraud activity.”