Cifas, the UK’s leading fraud prevention service, has launched the latest Fighting Fraud and Corruption Locally (FFCL) strategy on behalf of the FFCL Board, which sets the approach that local authorities will take to tackle fraud over the next decade

Councils across the UK continue to face a significant challenge to their budgets and resources as a result of fraud which, according to The National Fraud Authority, costed local authorities £2.1bn a year in 2013.

Building on input from 250 councils across England, the FFCL strategy builds on current good practice and makes recommendations for a more co-ordinated response to fighting fraud within local authorities on a local level. Some of those recommendations include:

  • Individuals charged with governance within local authorities will support measures to combat fraud and ensure that there are robust arrangements and executive support to ensure counter fraud, bribery and corruption measures. They will also make sure that these are embedded throughout the organisation.
  • Councils should undertake a risk assessment of fraud areas and vulnerabilities, and agree appropriate resource.
  • Local authorities should put in place controls to prevent fraudsters from accessing services and becoming employees, and this could be through the introduction of technology to establish identity, check documents and cross-check records.
  • Punishing fraudsters and recovering losses by prioritising the use of civil sanctions needs to continue to be a priority. Also developing capability and capacity to investigate fraudsters and develop a more collaborative and supportive law enforcement response on sanctions and collaboration.
  • Continue to protect against serious and organised crime, as well as protect individuals from becoming victims of crime and the harm that fraud can do within the community. For local authorities, this will also include protecting public funds, as well as the organisation from fraud and cyber-crime and also protecting against future frauds.

In addition, the strategy has introduced a range of initiatives including The Fraud Champions Network which will see CEOs and Financial Directors from Local Authorities come together to share intelligence and best practice around fraud prevention. A more formal link into the Joint Fraud Taskforce has also been agreed, giving local authorities access to senior economic crime stakeholders for the first time. In addition to this, there will be 30 activities and events that councils will undertake over the next year to demonstrate the good practice found during the research for the document, as well as their continued commitment to tackle fraud and corruption.

Mike Haley, Chair of the Joint Fraud Task Force, said “Fraud continues to make a significant drain on the resources and budgets of local authorities, and so more than ever, it is crucial that they take a co-ordinated and innovative to approach to tackling this issue.”

“This strategy is an important step in helping councils share and co-ordinate their response to fraud, as only by working together and continuing to innovate can we begin to take positive action against the fraud and corruption that is so corrosive to society.”

Richard Watts, Chair of LGA’s Resources Board, said “The Fighting Fraud and Corruption Locally Strategy is an excellent example of how councils can come together for the overall benefit of local services and residents served. Councils have a good record in countering fraud and the strategy contains numerous examples of successes.”

“Councils need to be agile and work together with national agencies and the Government to respond to new fraud threats, to prevent losses and to protect vulnerable people in our society. Collaboration to counter and prevent fraud is a theme running through the strategy.”