Welsh public authorities have saved £5.4 million in the latest round of the National Fraud Initiative (NFI), up £1 million on the previous round according to the national auditor.
Wales Audit Office (WAO) has published a report on the two-yearly initiative that shows since it began in 1996 it has revealed more than £35 million of fraud and overpayments in the country.
The NFI involves matching data across organisations and systems to help public bodies identify potentially fraudulent or erroneous claims and transactions. WAO 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.
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 £5.4 million in this latest NFI exercise is a considerable help to public services facing huge financial challenges.”
In August the Cabinet Office reported that the NFI had saved over £300 million over two years.
Wales’s auditor general has also been working in partnership with the Welsh Government, Department for Work and Pensions, Cabinet Office and HM Revenue and Customs to extend the scheme and apply data matching techniques into fraud risk areas not currently within the NFI – notably in education and housing provision.
It said the early results from these pilot exercises are proving very positive and the outcomes will be reported once the pilots have been fully evaluated.
All unitary local authorities, police, fire and NHS bodies in Wales are mandated to participate in the NFI, and the auditor general encourages all publicly funded bodies to participate on a voluntary basis.
Image from Wales Audit Office