Nearly £19 million of potential savings identifies in counter-fraud exercise

5 July 2018, 06:11

money

A counter-fraud operation has identified nearly £19 million of potential savings to Scotland's public sector.

The UK-wide National Fraud Initiative (NFI) found £18.6 million of fraud and error across government, councils, Police Scotland and other public bodies.

The figure includes future losses prevented by the anti-fraud work.

The scheme, overseen by the UK Cabinet Office, uses data matching to track down fraud and over-payments, for example comparing council tax records to the latest electoral register or blue parking badges to deceased persons' records.

A total of 113 Scottish public sector bodies took part in the 2016/17 initiative.

Of the total, 34% of the potential savings related to pensions, almost a quarter was connected to council tax discounts, while 14% related to misuse of the blue badge disabled parking scheme.

Audit Scotland, which leads the exercise in Scotland, said that as at March, public bodies were taking action to recover £4.8 million of over-payments.

Around 4,800 council tax discounts have been removed, 280 occupational pensions stopped or reduced and 4,505 blue badges stopped or flagged for future checks.

Fiona Kordiak, director of audit services, said: "Systems underpinning public spending are complex and errors can happen.

"There are also some individuals who seek to exploit the systems and fraudulently obtain services to which they are not entitled.

"What these latest results demonstrate is the value of data matching to Scotland's public finances at a time when budgets continue to be under pressure."