Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak has announced plans for a new body to fight against fraud in public spending.
He said the Public Sector Fraud Authority will include experts in data analytics and economic crime investigators and is expected to be up and running by July.
It will focus on identifying suspicious companies and people seeking government contracts, recovering money stolen from support schemes during the Covid-19 pandemic, and mounting mandatory inspections of Whitehall programmes to uncover vulnerabilities.
Recruitment for the authority is planned to begin in the coming weeks. Its CEO will report directly to the chancellor and the minister for Brexit opportunities and government efficiency.
Sunak said: “We will chase down fraudsters who rip off the taxpayer. This elite fraud squad, backed by £25 million, will ensure the latest counter fraud techniques are being used to track down these criminals.
“People are rightly furious that fraudsters took advantage of our vital Covid support schemes, and we are acting to make sure they pay the price.”
Jacob Rees-Mogg, the minister for government efficiency, said in a statement to Parliament that the new body will use cross-government data analytics tools in line with best business practice.
The move follows the creation of the cross-Whitehall Efficiencies and Value for Money Committee. Announcing this in March, HM Treasury said it could save £5.5 billion over the period of the Spending Review 2021.