Protecting the public purse

National Fraud Initiative

Since 1996 the Audit Commission has run the National Fraud Initiative (NFI), an exercise that matches electronic data within and between public and private sector bodies to prevent and detect fraud. This includes police authorities, local probation boards, fire and rescue authorities as well as local councils and a number of private sector bodies.

NFI 2010/11 helped trace almost £229 million in fraud, error and overpayments in England. Since the initiative’s start in 1996, the programme has helped identify £939 million in fraud or error and the initiative has attracted international recognition.

The use of data for NFI purposes continues to be controlled to ensure compliance with data protection and human rights legislation. A revised Code of data matching practice was published and laid before Parliament on 21 July 2008 and replaces the previous Code published by the Commission in 2006.

Public sector

Since 1996, the National Fraud Initiative has offered data screening services to public sector bodies. We have over ten years experience at data matching, and in that time have identified outcomes of £939 million.

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Private sector

The National Fraud Initiative offers data matching services to organisations in the private sector (or non mandatory participants). Over 300 private sector organisations have taken part in NFI.

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Bodies in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales should refer to the Northern Ireland Audit Office (external link), Audit Scotland (external link) and Wales Audit Office (external link) websites for further information about participation in the NFI.