CIPFA centre to lead frontline fraud fight

18 Jul 14

CIPFA has launched a new national Counter Fraud Centre to lead and co-ordinate the fight against fraud and corruption across the public sector.

The CIPFA Counter Fraud Centre (CCFC) will act as a centre of excellence on fraud, providing training and tools for counter-fraud professionals. It will also lead ‘Fighting Fraud Locally’, the national counter-fraud strategy for local government and take responsibility for the Audit Commission’s counter-fraud tools.

Rachael Tiffen, former deputy director of the National Fraud Authority, has been appointed to lead the centre.

Speaking at the centre’s launch at the accountancy firm Mazars in the City of London last night, CIPFA chief executive Rob Whiteman said: ‘Tackling fraud and protecting the public purse are at the heart of public concerns about the way government spends taxpayers’ money. Today, public servants are under pressure to deliver savings, and we want to help them do more with less.

‘Whether it is delivering the best value for the taxpayer, protecting reputations or developing professional skills, the CIPFA Counter Fraud Centre will be here to help tackle fraud and ensure the ongoing delivery of essential public services.’

Tiffen added: ‘We want to be the source of best practice, resources and training for all those who are seeking to protect taxpayers and the precious resources they depend upon from fraud and misuse.

‘The work of the centre will save money for the taxpayer, while protecting the reputation of public services by developing the critical know-how and wherewithal needed to fight fraud on the front line.’

The launch event also heard from some members of the CCFC’s advisory board, including Ian O’Donnell, executive director of corporate resources at Ealing Council and chair of Fighting Fraud Locally.

He said it was time to re-examine the fraud risks facing local government, noting that councils were dealing with ‘massive change’, including funding cuts, welfare reforms and localisation of business rates.

Gareth Davies, partner at Mazars, which is one of the centre’s founding sponsors, observed that the introduction of personal budgets represented a growing area of risk for councils, as did rises in property values, particularly in London, which put greater risk into the housing system through Right-to-Buy fraud and subletting. ‘That’s coming out in our audit work,’ he said.

Mark Babington, who leads the National Audit Office’s work on counter-fraud and is another member of the CCFC’s advisory board, told the event that the shift to a more contractual model of public service delivery needed to be matched with a change in mindset.

He questioned whether public service contracts were always approached with sufficient scepticism and whether there had been an adequate focus on cyber risks.

  • Vivienne Russell

    Vivienne Russell is managing editor of Public Finance magazine and publicfinance.co.uk

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