New research report published on ‘Tackling Fraud in the Public Sector – a Local Government Perspective’
Perpetuity Research are pleased to publish their latest report entitled ‘Tackling Fraud in the Public Sector – a Local Government Perspective’, from research commissioned by CIPFA. The full report and presentation are available below.
The aim of this research was to better understand how local authorities approach fraud in their organisations and was carried out through consultation with senior officers, who were able to share their knowledge and observations about what works well in their organisations, and what does not.
The report highlights that although senior officers in local authorities generally perceived fraud to be a problem in their organisations, they were generally positive about their own ability to tackle it. However, it was apparent from the findings that there was room for improvement in a number of their approaches. The majority of respondents felt that strong anti-fraud messages are sent out by their leadership teams, and that these have successfully created cultures where individuals are aware of fraud risks and know what to do should they come across suspected fraudulent activity. When considering how to tackle fraud in the future, it was suggested that a different emphasis regarding priorities (rather than the need for new priorities) would be beneficial, and a shift towards more preventive, rather than reactive methods of countering fraud was favoured. However, when some of these methods were explored further, a number of barriers were identified, and these need to be addressed before these can be successfully implemented.
Rob Whiteman CBE, CIPFA CEO said:
“Fraud, bribery and corruption are constantly evolving threats that undermine financial resilience and put even greater pressure on public services at a time of crisis. The increased strain on resources and governance as a result of COVID-19, and the prevalence of technology-enabled frauds, compound these threats even further.
“We cannot prevent all financial crime. What we can do is put in place measures to ensure that authorities have an awareness of the risks they face in a constantly changing world and are equipped to mitigate these.
“Our focus in the future must shift to long-term planning and preventative strategies to ensure that fraudsters cannot threaten the resources councils need to provide for the most vulnerable.”
Professor Martin Gill, Director of Perpetuity Research said:
“In these stressful times the police have put us on notice that fraudsters are active, exploring the new opportunities that are being created for them by the current epidemic. Never has it been a more important time to understand both the risks and the need to adapt responses accordingly.
“This research provides important and timely insights from senior officers in local government across the country on the nature and level of fraud risks and identifies some of the key barriers to improving the response. These findings must be heeded.”