The overall level of identified public sector fraud and error in Scotland has fallen slightly, according to the results of a national counter-fraud exercise.
Every two years the National Fraud Initiative (NFI) identifies outcomes worth millions in estimated savings to the public sector purse. The 2020/21 NFI exercise in Scotland identified outcomes valued at £14.9 million compared to £15.3 million in 2018/19. This included:
- £4.6 million in reduced or removed council tax discounts
- £1.5 million in occupational pensions not being paid out
- £1.2 million in housing benefit payments stopped or reduced.
The reduction in outcomes could be due to public bodies strengthening their internal controls. Some key data sets from previous exercises were also not included in the latest exercise. And public bodies also said increased pressure on services during the pandemic meant staff had less time available to commit to the NFI.
Antony Clark, Executive Director of Performance Audit and Best Value, said:
Despite the challenges of the pandemic, public bodies in Scotland continue to show a strong commitment to detecting fraud and error.
At a difficult time for public sector budgets, it’s important that all participating bodies continue to look to maximise their participation in the exercise and act on areas of improvement identified by local auditors.