​​​​​​​Wales Audit Office initiative finds £5.4m of fraud and overpayments

23 Oct 18

The Wales Audit Office has uncovered £5.4m of fraud and overpayments across public services in Wales over the last two years.

The value of fraud uncovered by the National Fraud Initiative between April 2016 and March 2018 increased by £1m from the £4.4m found between April 2014 and March 2016, according to the latest report, released yesterday.

Auditor general Adrian Crompton said: “When fraudsters claim for services and benefits they’re not entitled to, it means that those in genuine need may have to wait longer for services, treatments or help.

“Uncovering £5.4m in this latest NFI exercise is a considerable help to public services facing huge financial challenges.”

The NFI was set up in 1996 and looks at data over a two year period every two years. It has identified more than £35m in fraud and overpayments across the public sector in Wales.

The Welsh figures were extrapolated from the government’s National Fraud Initiative figures for the UK, released in August, which identified £301m in public sector fraud and overpayments across the UK.

The Welsh auditor general collaborates on the NFI with the Cabinet Office, Audit Scotland and the Northern Ireland Audit Office to match data across 13,000 organisations in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Types of fraud and overpayments uncovered included:

  • People falsely claiming to be the sole adult occupant of a property to receive a 25% discount on council tax
  • Ongoing payments to care home residents after they have died
  • Individuals claiming housing benefit at more than one property.

In June 2013, the National Fraud Authority estimated that the annual loss to fraud against the public sector in the UK amounted to £662m - excluding tax fraud.

While all unitary local authorities, police, fire and NHS bodies in Wales are mandated to participate in the NFI, the auditor general encourages all publicly funded bodies in Wales to participate on a voluntary basis and free of charge.

CIFPA’s annual fraud and corruption tracker found that local authorities detected £302m in fraud in 2017-18.

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