Capturing fraud and error in Scotland’s public sector

By Anne Cairns

Anne CairnsWhat do you know about the National Fraud Initiative (NFI)? The most important fact is that it saves millions for the public purse.

North of the border, the counter-fraud exercise is led by Audit Scotland and overseen by the Cabinet Office for the UK.

It runs every two years and uses digital data-matching to compare personal information held by different public bodies, such as councils and NHS boards, that might highlight fraud or error.

In our last report, in June 2016, a total of £16.8m worth of error had been recorded in the previous two years. The graphic below gives you an idea of the work’s impact.nfi2016_ex04

The total fraud and error figure since the NFI began in 2006 is £110.6m in Scotland and £1.39bn across the UK. These figures include an estimate of future losses prevented by the work. Here’s an example, from the 2016 report, of the kind of fraud identified by the NFI:

The City of Edinburgh Council

A NFI pension match identified a fraud in excess of £15,000 which had taken place for almost 13 years. Pension officers previously sent out a Life Certificates for completion and the forms were returned duly completed, signed and witnessed. The next time the match was identified through NFI, a senior pension officer checked it and noticed that the witness signatures on the previous two Life Certificates were by the same person. Photographic evidence was then requested. More investigations were undertaken and a death date of 2003 was identified. The case is now the subject of a police investigation.

We’re now preparing to report on fraud and error identified in the Scottish public sector as a result of NFI data matching since April 2016. You can see below what the picture was at that point.


Our new report comes out this Thursday (5 July) and you’ll be able to find it on the Audit Scotland website.

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