Greater effort is required to prevent criminals and fraudsters cheating the public purse, says a Holyrood Committee.
In a report published today, the Public Audit and Post-legislative Scrutiny Committee sets out key recommendations to improve the National Fraud Initiative (NFI) in Scotland following its post-legislative scrutiny of the scheme.
The NFI, led by Audit Scotland, matches electronic data to detect fraud or error in the public sector – such as overpayments of housing benefits and council tax discounts, blue badge misuse or pension fraud.
The NFI is estimated to have generated positive outcomes of over £110 million since 2006, with more than 100 public sector organisations across Scotland taking part in the last exercise.
Public Audit and Post-Legislative Scrutiny Committee Acting Convener, Jackie Baillie MSP, said:
“There’s no doubt that the NFI is a success story in Scotland. It has improved the transparency of our public finances and has clawed back millions of pounds that otherwise would’ve been in the pockets of fraudsters or lost due to system errors.
“However, we have outlined several ways in which Scotland’s approach to stopping scams or preventing errors could be strengthened.
“One of our key recommendations is to raise public awareness of the NFI to help maximise its deterrent effect. By letting more people know the NFI takes place, how it works and highlighting its successful outcomes we can help prevent fraud occurring in the first place.
“We have also called for all public bodies in Scotland – and private organisations in receipt of public money where appropriate – to participate in the NFI given the clear savings to the public purse.”
Read the Public Audit and Post-legislative Scrutiny Committee report.