Protecting the public purse

Protecting the public purse 2012

Fighting fraud against local government

This report finds that councils are targeting their investigative resources more efficiently and effectively, detecting more than 124,000 cases of fraud in 2011/12 totalling £179 million. But it urges them not to drop their guard, as new frauds are emerging in areas such as business rates, Right to Buy housing discounts and schools.

The report gives the results of the Audit Commission’s annual survey of English councils. It says that, despite these detection rates, more can still be done. The National Fraud Authority (NFA) estimates that the total amount of fraud in the UK costs every adult in the country about £1,460 a year. Fraud targeting just local government exceeds £2.2 billion per year.

Chairman of the Audit Commission, Jeremy Newman, says:

‘There is no doubt our findings show councils increasingly out-smarting the fraudsters. But while they are busy tackling established frauds, new ones keep emerging. Every threat exposed or investigated safeguards money which is needed more than ever.’

We identify emerging fraud risks around business rates, the Social Fund, schools, Local Welfare Assistance, Right to Buy and Local Council Tax Support. We urge local councils and related bodies to focus on and tackle these issues and others that we highlight, and to improve their counter-fraud defences.

Our updated checklist also gives organisations an opportunity to consider how effective they are at responding to the risk of fraud.

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Protecting the public purse 2012: Fighting fraud against local government