Local authorities must increase their investment in digital technology a part of a radical change in approach to tackling fraud, according to a new government strategy.
The Fighting Fraud and Corruption Locally document was launched this week after a collaboration between local authorities and the counter fraud centre hosted by the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy.
The vision, which covers the next three years, says strong leadership will be required in to achieve fight fraud using technology and a stronger emphasis on collaboration.
Local government minister Marcus Jones said: “A clear message needs to be sent to fraudsters that councils won’t put up with fraud of any sort. As the Strategy says – it is about having robust systems in place to prevent fraud occurring in the first place.
“I fully believe the onus lies rightly at the top of the organisation to set the tone and culture that councils are serious and won’t tolerate fraud, that all parts of the organisation have a job to build fraud resilience into their systems, to actively look for, and where they find it prosecute fraudsters.”
The strategy outlines an vision for a major culture shift by 2019, where fraud and corruption are unacceptable and all employees play a part in eradicating them.
It said that “by better understanding of risk and using technology local authorities will shut the door to fraudsters who try to access their systems or services local authorities will have invested in sustainable systems to tackle fraud and corruption and will see the results of recovery.”
In addition, it called on local authorities to share information more widely using advanced technology to prevent and detect losses.
Councils should put in place preventive technology to establish identity, check documents, and cross-check records, the report said.
It said: “The starting point of the strategic response is to acknowledge the threat of fraud and the opportunities for protecting the public purse that exist. This acknowledgement must start at the top and lead to action.”
Among the strategy’s recommendations was a call for local authorities to participate in data technology pilots to improve their efforts to detect and prevent fraud and corruption.