Government aims to boost fraud skills of thousands of officials

New strategy puts forward plan to upskill experts across Whitehall

Credit: 200 Degrees/Pixabay

The government has unveiled a new strategy to modernise its fraud-fighting capability by focusing on increasing officials’ expertise, including data and analytics skills.

The Public Sector Fraud Authority’s (PSFA) updated Counter Fraud Profession Strategy will aim to create a diverse and skilled pipeline of skills to prevent fraud against public sector organisations, the Cabinet Office said. To do this, it will upskill the 7,000 public servants who have joined the government counter-fraud profession. This includes a target to train 250 fraud-risk experts by the end of this year.

The strategy outlines how the authority will increase the skills, standards and capability of civil servants, as well as staff in the wider public sector, who work on protecting public services from fraud.

The PSFA was created last year with backing of £25m and with the intention of bringing together data analysts and modern technology to provide a central unit to help lead efforts to crack down on fraud across the public sector.

It is estimated that fraud and error costs the public sector at least £33bn per year.

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Apprenticeships will be a key focus of the new strategy, the Cabinet Office said, with the PSFA launching a new apprenticeship in counter fraud in 2024. This will run alongside the existing fraud investigation apprenticeship.

As well as investing in investigation skills, the cornerstone of the profession, the strategy also aims to arm staff with more skills in fraud prevention and identification.

Mark Cheeseman, interim chief executive of the PSFA and head of the GCFP, said the strategy shows how the government is “investing in building and modernising its fraud-fighting capability”.

“Fraudsters are a committed, capable and evolving adversary and the public sector is just as affected by this hidden crime as other sectors,” Cheeseman said.

The strategy has been developed and will be delivered with government, law enforcement and industry counter-fraud and learning experts.

To help deliver the strategy, the PSFA is partnering with experts at fraud prevention service Cifas, the University of Coventry and the Australia Commonwealth Fraud Prevention Centre.

Cabinet Office minister Lucy Neville-Rolfe said: “The challenge we face from fraud is stark.”

She said the strategy “will continue to enhance the capability and expertise of those fighting hard to protect taxpayers’ money”.

The GCFP was created in 2018 to develop a common structure for counter fraud capability across government and for public sector organisations leading the fight against the crime.

When it launched, the profession had 3,000 members across 17 organisations including HM Revenue and Customs, the Department for Work and Pensions, and the Serious Fraud Office. It now has around 7,000 members across 48 organisations, including policing and local government.

Tevye Markson

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