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CIPFA's Better Governance Forum and business intelligence company SAS today released a study into the growth of pub...
CIPFA's Better Governance Forum and business intelligence company SAS today released a study into the growth of public sector fraud in the UK. The report, based on the top concerns and priorities of 143 public sector leaders, shows an unexpectedly broad range of opinions from the complacent to very concerned, highlighting the continuing lack of dedicated leadership within the public sector to eliminate fraud.

Contrary to the evidence in all other industry sectors and even contrary to the government's own estimates of fraud in the public sector, nearly 60% of those who responded to the survey thought that fraud was 'a minor problem'. However, in the same survey 10% of the respondents thought that fraud had reached epidemic proportions. These findings appear to contradict the on-going commitment by organisations such as the NHS and the DWP to crush fraud.

Nearly two-thirds of the respondents felt that the reported increases in fraud in the public sector were the result of improved detection rather than any real increases in the level of fraud. However, 85% said they thought fraud was going to increase over the next two years, with a staggering 91% of respondents saying that local authorities could do more to combat fraud. The main areas of improvement revolved around the need for improved fraud detection tools - cited by 88% of respondents, and increased awareness of the fraud problem - cited by 77% of respondents. Nearly 80% of those questioned also believed that the Audit Commission's data matching exercises should involve more departments and more data, whilst four out ten respondents felt that the government's UK Online scheme would make fraud more prevalent.

'As the report shows, fraud is expected to grow significantly year on year, which is a major concern for the public sector,' said Peter Dorrington, head of fraud solutions at SAS UK. 'SAS recently revised its estimated cost of fraud in the UK up from £14bn to £18bn per annum, highlighting that fraud is worse now t han ever before. This report shows that the public sector is in desperate need of strong leadership to help raise awareness of the problem within the public sector as a whole, and to help level the playing field in the fight against fraud.'

CIPFA's Better Governance Forum counter fraud advisor John Baker said that

raising awareness of the threat fraud poses is a key objective of the research report. 'Some areas of the public sector are still not taking fraud seriously enough - whilst over half of respondents thought that chief executives are generally aware that fraudulent activity is taking place within their organisation, our research also revealed that over a third of respondents believed that chief executives are unaware of such. It is vital that we continue to raise the awareness of fraud in the public sector as well as providing the vital support that is needed by public sector organisations all over the UK who are struggling with the ever increasing problem of fraud.'

About the survey

KRC Research conducted this survey between 26 March and 2 April. In total, 143 public sector leaders participated in this online survey. The overall margin of error for the survey is plus or minus eight percentage points at the 95% confidence interval. Results for subsets of the data will have larger margins of error.

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