£8 million fraud and overpayments uncovered by National Fraud Initiative – response by Senedd’s Public Accounts Committee

Published 13/10/2020   |   Last Updated 13/10/2020

The Chair of the Senedd Public Accounts Committee has responded to the findings of an Auditor General’s report published today, Tuesday 13 October 2020, which reveals that £8 million of fraud and overpayments have been uncovered across public services in Wales.

The latest National Fraud Initiative (NFI) exercise for 2018-2020 found £8 million of fraud and overpayments – an extra £2.7m compared with the previous round two years ago. In his report, the Auditor General’s explains the increase was mainly due to “several local authorities being more proactive in reviewing matches between council tax single persons discount and the electoral register”.

The report also highlights that the COVID-19 pandemic has “significantly increased the risk of fraud”.  The Auditor General says he is working with the Cabinet Office to help address some of this risk. 

In response to the Auditor General’s report, the Chair of the Senedd Public Accounts Committee, Nick Ramsay MS, said:

“At a time of continued financial pressure, the National Fraud Initiative (NFI) makes a vital contribution to the detection of fraud and overpayments across Welsh public services. The increased impact of the latest NFI exercise demonstrates clearly the benefits of public bodies following up rigorously on the data matching process. It is therefore disappointing that some organisations are not investing sufficient time and effort to do so.

“We are seeing new fraud risks emerge through the COVID-19 pandemic and I welcome the action that the Auditor General has taken to work with the Cabinet Office to identify, develop and promote data matching facilities. I am also pleased to see data-matching of COVID-19 business support grants paid by local authorities included as part of the NFI in future.

“Earlier this year, the Auditor General published a report on public bodies’ counter-fraud arrangements. The Public Accounts Committee will be taking account of the findings of both of these reports during its planned scrutiny of the Welsh Government’s 2019-20 consolidated accounts.”

The National Fraud Initiative is carried out every two years and matches data between organisations, systems and across national borders to help public bodies identify potentially fraudulent or erroneous claims and transactions.

The Auditor General’s report can be read in full here