Jamie Hailstone 30 June 2016

Data sharing programme uncovers £17m in fraud

A data sharing exercise between councils and other public sector organisations in Scotland has uncovered nearly £17m of fraud and errors.

A new report by Audit Scotland into the National Fraud Initiative claims the programme has uncovered around £16.8m in benefit payments, discounts and pensions in the last two years, after more data was shared between organisations.

According to Audit Scotland, the programme has led to almost 6,000 overpayments – worth £4.6m – being recovered, 4,846 council tax discounts reduced or removed and more than 3,000 blue badges stopped or flagged for future checks.

The report states most bodies are taking the National Fraud Initiative seriously, although some could investigate matches more quickly once they have been identified.

‘The National Fraud Initiative makes a significant contribution to the security and transparency of public finances by checking that services are provided to the correct people and therefore helping to reduce fraud and error,’ said assistant auditor general, Russell Frith.

‘It also acts as a powerful deterrent against persons who might be planning to commit fraud.

‘It's important that public bodies take full advantage of the support that the Initiative can provide to their detection work, and the increasing opportunities the technology creates for strengthening the fight against fraud,’ added Mr Frith.

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