Councils told to embed data matching to make savings

Written by Rebecca Hill on 1 July 2016 in News

A data-sharing initiative across Scottish public bodies has found fraud and error costs worth almost £17 million since 2014.

Data sharing could lead to savings - Photo credit: Pexels

The National Fraud Initiative, which is carried out every two years by Audit Scotland, has generated a total of £110.6m in Scotland and £1.39 billion across the UK.

The report from the latest exercise, which is the fifth overall and involved 104 public bodies in Scotland, urged councils to take actions to embed the processes in their own systems.

Related content

Proposals aimed at public sector data sharing
Watchdog warns government to improve fraud data
Councils aim at £1m savings through service to tackle fraudulent claims

The NFI uses data matching to compare a range of information held on the public bodies’ systems to identify inconsistencies and potential fraudulent activity. These are then investigated and any potential action is taken.

This exercise used fewer data sets for matching – 585 compared with 599 in the 2012-13 exercise – but overall outcomes rose from £16m to £16.8m. This comprises £14.7m from this exercise and £2.1m from follow-up work on the previous exercise.

One of the areas that generated the best results was in matching the electoral role with council tax records, which would detect circumstances where someone is claiming a single person discount but does not live alone. This identified fraud and error costs of £5.6m.

Other successes were in matching blue badge and pension records to deceased persons’ records, generating costs of £2.4m and £4.6m, respectively, and in matching housing benefit claimants to employees and public sector occupational pension records, which generated £3m.

The NFI report said that it had thus far recovered almost 6,000 overpayments, worth £4.6m. This is up from the previous exercise, which recovered £4.5m of overpayments.

The report of the latest exercise said that most organisations take advantage of the opportunities provided by the NFI.

However, it said that “some could act more promptly and ensure that appropriate officers are in place who have sufficient time available to investigate matches, stop frauds and correct errors”.

Areas of concern identified by an audit of the process said that half of the bodies needed to improve internal audit involvement and monitoring of the NFI process, while a quarter needed to improve reporting of NFI progress to senior management.

However, it said that an audit of the process showed that 24% of bodies did not record their outcomes fully on the NFI web application and that many could improve the way they record their investigations.

The initiative’s report adds that a further benefit of the programme is the deterrent effect that regular data sharing exercises might have on people considering fraud.

The report also made a series of recommendations to local authorities. These were to embed regular use of data matching as part of their overall control arrangements to identify council tax fraud, ensure they have the capability to investigate non-housing benefit fraud and improve matching of pension schemes with death records.

The next NFI exercise will begin in July this year, when it will also assess which bodies should be involved. 

Share this page




Please login to post a comment or register for a free account.

Related Articles

Interview: CDDO chief Lee Devlin on the ‘move from being disruptive to collaborative’
23 May 2023

In the first of a series of exclusive interviews, the head of government’s ‘Digital HQ’ talks to PublicTechnology about the Central Digital and Data Office’s work to unlock £8bn...

Rochford District Council pins data breach on Capita’s ‘unsafe storage’
17 May 2023

Authority claims it is taking ‘swift and decisive action’ in response to incident it claims affected several councils

Cabinet Office has striven to become anti-fraud leader, leader says
17 May 2023

Permanent secretary Alex Chisholm tells MPs that his department has adopted new measures and worked to increase skills

Home Office biometrics scheme delays delivery date and faces cost ‘pressures’
15 May 2023

Updated assessment reveals £27m in additional spending and possibility that department ‘will consider reduced programme scope’

Related Sponsored Articles

Proactive defence: A new take on cyber security
16 May 2023

The traditional reactive approach to cybersecurity, which involves responding to attacks after they have occurred, is no longer sufficient. Murielle Gonzalez reports on a webinar looking at...