Investigations uncover £110m of fraud and error

Houses Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Cross-checking public body databases can show whether households are fraudulently claiming single person discounts

Scottish public bodies have identified more than £110m of fraudulent or mistaken payments since they began sharing data nearly a decade ago.

Audit Scotland co-ordinates the data-sharing exercise every two years.

It includes matching electoral registers against households receiving single-person tax discounts to see if others are living at the address.

The latest National Fraud Initiative (NFI) in 2014/15 uncovered nearly £17m of fraud and error.

The public bodies which take part can match employee lists to benefit claimants to find out if they are not declaring income, or working while claiming to be unemployed.

Pension records are also cross-checked against death registers to stop people collecting pensions for dead relatives.

Audit Scotland said more than 100 public bodies took part in the 2014/15 NFI, with 5,939 overpayments being recovered worth about £4.6m.

In addition, 4,846 council tax discounts have been reduced or removed and 194 occupational pensions stopped.

National Fraud Initiative



Total recovered

  • 4,846 council tax discounts reduced/removed

  • 3,073 blue badges stopped/flagged

  • 868 housing benefit payments stopped/reduced

  • 194 occupational pensions stopped

The most common fraudulent and mistaken payments related to council tax discounts, pensions, blue badges and housing benefits.

Russell Frith, assistant auditor general, said: "The National Fraud Initiative makes a significant contribution to the security and transparency of public finances by checking that services are provided to the correct people and therefore helping to reduce fraud and error.

"It also acts as a powerful deterrent against persons who might be planning to commit fraud.

"It's important that public bodies take full advantage of the support that the initiative can provide to their detection work and the increasing opportunities the technology creates for strengthening the fight against fraud."

A Cosla spokesman said: "Cosla welcomes the report from Audit Scotland on the NFI. Councils are committed to tackling fraud and ensuring that money goes to support those who have genuine need.

"The NFI is an important tool in assisting councils and other public authorities to share data and access the information needed to combat fraud and error and, as the news release suggests, this has been a successful initiative for fraud prevention across the public sector."

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