Government Efficiency Minister, Jacob Rees-Mogg, today launched a new anti-fraud team, with the primary focus of catching fraud committed against the public purse, with a year one target of £180,000,000.
This new team, dubbed the Public Sector Fraud Authority, will be made up of counter fraud and data experts, and will have access to ‘best-in-class tools and advanced analytics to help departments and public bodies protect public money’.
A cross sector Advisory Panel will provide expert advice and help establish the strategic approach to public sector fraud prevention and reduction. The chair of this panel will be announced in September.
The original government press release stated that this new organisation will be backed with £25 million of new funding and will be modernising the government’s response to fraud by:
- Agreeing ambitious counter fraud plans for departments and public bodies and reviewing progress
- Regularly and directly briefing Cabinet Ministers including HM Treasury and Cabinet Office on the latest fraud landscape
- Providing expert support to departments and public bodies about the fraud risks and threats they face, then help to design defences against them and test their effectiveness
- Building a new National Counter Fraud Data Analytics Service that will provide advanced data capabilities, such as social network analysis, to surface, fight and prevent fraud against taxpayers
- Enhancing the use of fraud intelligence across the public sector, and with other sectors, to combat specific threats.
Public sector fraud is not an attack on a single person, and so to many the pain feels less sharp than when directed at individuals. But fraud attacks on government are attacks on money earned by much put-upon taxpayers.
They are an attack on the emergency services whose funding they deplete, similarly they steal money from infrastructure projects.
As criminals develop more sophisticated tools, we too must adapt and modernise.
So we’re attracting the brightest minds and equipping them with tools to detect, prevent and deter those who seek to steal money intended to fund vital public services.
This will be achieved in part by supporting BEIS and bank lenders with advanced data analytics expertise and tools to find fraud and recover fraud linked to the Bounce Back Loan scheme.
Chief Secretary to the Treasury Simon Clarke said:
The launch of the new body will put a laser-like focus on fraud and renew our efforts to combat people taking advantage of our public services and support.
It will reinforce wider investment in government to crack down on fraud and mis-claiming, including £210 million for HMRC to further tackle fraud, and £510 million for DWP to target welfare fraud in 2021.
Tackling fraud will drive efficiency, saving taxpayers’ hard-earned money which is even more important as we know people are struggling with the rising cost of living.
The creation of the Public Sector Fraud Authority represents a landmark in our fight against public sector fraud. We know that fraudsters are a committed, capable and evolving adversary.
To respond to this we must raise our ambition and challenge ourselves to increase our impact on this often unseen and underestimated crime. The PSFA will support public servants across government and public bodies to take that step – to innovate and to modernise our approach to fraud.
The recent success of the National Fraud Initiative (NFI), which between 2020 and 2022, detected and prevented more than £200m of public sector pension fraud, paved the way for the new team to be established.