The Cabinet Office has begun a consultation on the expansion of data matching as part of the National Fraud Initiative (NFI).
Julia Lopez MP (pictured), parliamentary secretary to the Cabinet Office, announced the move in a statement to Parliament, saying it has been prompted by estimates suggesting this could save at least a further £10 million a year for the public sector.
The NFI consists of a number of solutions, including real time point of application fraud prevention checks and a national data matching exercise to detect active cases of fraud within systems.
It is run by Synectics Solutions for the government and brings together over 8,000 datasets from around 1,300 public and private sector organisations for comparisons to identify fraudulent claims and payments. Lopez said it has saved £1.9 billion since it was established in 1996.
The consultation document proposes four additional powers for data matching under the NFI: to assist in the prevention and detection of crime; to assist in the apprehension and prosecution of offenders; to assist in the prevention and detection of errors and inaccuracies; and to assist in the recovery of debt owing to public bodies.
This would be facilitated under the 2014 act that provides the current basis for the operation of the NFI.
Lopez said the change would help police to solve crimes other than fraud, support local authorities and government departments in reducing debt owed to public bodies, and reduce errors that might exist in existing official data records.
“Our work to date shows that the powers will create longer term efficiency savings that will help public services,” she said. “This aligns with the Cabinet Office role of creating efficiencies across government and the government's manifesto commitment to improve the use of data in the process of government.
“We are committed to transparency on these proposals. Work to enact the powers was one of the five key objectives set out in the NFI strategic delivery plan, 2018 to 2022. The results of this consultation will be instrumental in determining the way forward.”
The consultation is open until 10 March.
Image by Richard Townshend, CCBY 3.0