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NEW SURVEY TO TIGHTEN NET AROUND FRAUDSTERS EXPLOITING PUBLIC PURSE

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The National Fraud Inspectorate has completed an exercise to uncover fraud, which reveals local government has lost...
The National Fraud Inspectorate has completed an exercise to uncover fraud, which reveals local government has lost£50m in the past two years.

The survey, which is carried out every two years, began in 2000 by collecting data from around 600 organisations including councils, police and fire authorities, pension agencies, the NHS and central government. The data is then examined to find evidence of fraud, this year exposing a 20% increase on the previous two years.

The main sources of fraud were housing benefit, where£24m was detected, and occupational pensions, which accounted for a further£24m.

Audit Commission controller Sir Andrew Foster said: 'The net is tightening around those who attempt to defraud the public purse. By sharing information, public bodies are helping shine a spotlight on areas that have gone un-investigated in the past.'

He added: 'On top of the losses uncovered, this will deter would-be fraudsters who have progressively fewer places to hide.'

Case studies in the commission's report include an instance where Wirral MBC found overpayments of£157,000 made to 30 pensioners who had died.

The report could result in thousands of prosecutions for fraud, but it is expected these could take years to complete.

It is anticipated the next fraud inspection will identify more fraud because it will include all NHS payroll data and a greater number of private and public pension funds.

There are also plans to introduce data on asylum seekers from the Home Office to uncover any housing benefit fraud carried out by landlords.

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