Press Releases

PRESS RELEASE : New specialist fraud squad to help departments prevent fraud in public services [May 2023]

The press release issued by the Cabinet Office on 24 May 2023.

A new team of experts will surge into departments to help prevent fraud in public services.

  • New team part of the government’s £1billion crackdown on fraud, lead by the Public Sector Fraud Authority.
  • Central team of experts will help to prevent fraud by identifying areas of services which are most at risk.
  • Specialists will also help Civil Servants to ‘design out’ fraud when new schemes and services are being launched.

A new team of experts will surge into departments to help prevent fraud in public services.

The team, which starts work today, is the latest tool in the government’s £1bn crackdown on fraud against the public sector, led by the Public Sector Fraud Authority (PSFA).

The new service will provide expert advice and support to help departments and public bodies to better understand how fraudsters attack government schemes and services and take action to make those attacks less likely to succeed.

It will deploy teams of experts into critical points, such as when the government announces new spending programmes or policies, to scrutinise and improve oversight of spending before funds are issued, to ensure that fraudsters cannot profit from the public purse.

The team is made up of counter-fraud experts, who have had specialist training and are experienced in preventing and detecting fraud. They will help services to harness the latest tools and techniques, such adopting a fraudsters mindset to stress test fraud controls, in a similar way to how ethical hacking operates, to strengthen the government’s fraud defences.

Cabinet Office Minister Baroness Neville-Rolfe said:

We know that fraudsters, both in the UK and overseas, are targeting public funds and so we must do everything we can to stop them.

The public expects us to protect taxpayers money, so this new service steps up the government’s fraud defences through more rigorous identification of the threats we face and specialist support for public services.

The Risk, Threat and Prevention Service is a global first, with no other government in the world currently providing such a cross-government resource and capability to identify and counter fraud.

It will develop new tools for government to use, including the Global Fraud Risk Assessment, which will track and analyse common fraud patterns so that teams can ensure that services are designed in a way which does not leave them exposed to fraud.

The team will also develop a High Fraud Risk Portfolio which will identify the areas of the public sector most at risk of fraud. This will enable departments to better prioritise the allocation of counter fraud resources and expert advice, so that fraud risks are mitigated more efficiently.

These new tools will allow the government to better target counter-fraud resource. The Risk, Threat and Prevention Service will lead fraud squads, which will surge into departments, to analyse and design services which are far less open to the risk of fraud.

This early intervention will help ‘design out’ fraud at the early stages of a new government service or policy starting, preventing the need for investigators to have to try and recoup money in the future. The savings delivered by the new team will help deliver the Prime Minister’s commitment to growing the economy, by reducing public money lost to fraud and ensuring funding reaches the services it is intended for.

The service has been built over the past eight months. The government appointed Mark Cheeseman OBE, an internationally recognised expert, as the Authority’s first Chief Executive last week.

He said:

Across the world fraud is getting more complex and pervasive, but we  know that the investment in understanding and preventing fraud pays off.

The creation of the new Risk, Threat and Prevention Service, a first for the government, will help us to continue innovating, and improving, across the system at finding, fighting and stopping fraud.

Government has invested £1bn in taking action against public sector fraud in this spend review period, and has recovered more than £3.1bn of fraud losses in the last two years, including within Covid-19 schemes. Significant progress has been made by establishing the PSFA which is stepping up the government’s efforts to protect taxpayers’ money. Government continues to expand its Counter Fraud Profession, develop new technologies and boost skills and training to further protect the public purse.