‘No-one is above the law’ warning as £400m is saved in fraud initiative

A clampdown on fraudsters and benefits cheats has saved more than £400m of taxpayers’ cash.

New figures published by the Cabinet Office have revealed that cutting-edge data matching software has been used to weed out the cheaters.

The National Fraud Initiative enables organisations to use data and match records so they can pick up where people or businesses are taking the Government for a ride. Since its inception, it’s identified and helped recover around £2.4bn.

Minister for the Cabinet Office, Jeremy Quin, said: “British people work hard for every penny and they rightly expect the Government to put everything they’ve got into protecting taxpayers’ money.

“Money stolen from the Government through fraud is theft from every taxpayer.

Taking the fight to fraudsters

“This report shows we saved the taxpayer £443 million. When the country is tightening its belt, government must do the same.

“To be even more effective, earlier this year, we set up a new anti-fraud authority which is designed by and led by fraud experts whose express mission is to take the fight to fraudsters.”

The latest figures show around 42,000 fraudulent disabled blue badges were being used and more than 225,000 cases where discounted travel cards of people who had died or didn’t qualify for concessions have now been blocked.

Around 7,000 people who were clogging up the social housing waiting lists of 102 councils despite not being eligible have been identified and removed, opening up affordable housing for those who need it.

One case study was in Sandwell where an individual was offered social housing. They then claimed to a neighbouring council that they were homeless and were offered temporary housing. The use of NFI data-matching allowed the fraud to be identified and the individual is now in arrears of nearly £100,000.

Another came in Tameside where a hospitality business which was ineligible for small business support lied to two councils about its size and received more than £40,000 in rates relief.

Interim CEO of the Public Sector Fraud Authority Mark Cheeseman said: “Every day, people are attacking taxpayer-funded services for their own gain. The Public Sector Fraud Authority, where the National Fraud Initiative is now based, is part of a wider investment across government to rise to this challenge.

“In a difficult context, these latest results are still the best since the National Fraud Initiative started in 1996 – stopping more fraud than at any other point in its history and protecting public money and public services. This achievement is a testament to the work of public servants across the United Kingdom, including Local Authorities and NHS Trusts, who are striving to find and stop fraud.”

£180m target by April 2023

The newly established Public Sector Fraud Authority (PSFA) has been backed by £25 million of new funding with a target of saving £180 million for the taxpayer by April 2023.

Chief Secretary to the Treasury John Glen said: “This government is coming down hard on fraudsters, using cutting edge data to track them and recover public money.

“We’re boosting that work with an extra £280 million to tackle benefit fraud and £79 million to tackle tax fraud. No one is above the law.”

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