The government will invest £48.8mn in a new counter-fraud authority over the next three years to “step up” efforts against fraud and “recover millions of pounds”.
In his Spring Statement today (March 23), chancellor Rishi Sunak said the authority would work in tandem with counter-fraud work happening across the British Business Bank and the National Intelligence Service.
“The investment enables government and enforcement agencies to step up their efforts to reduce fraud and error, bring fraudsters to justice, and will recover millions of pounds,” the chancellor said in a statement published after his address to MPs.
The government is also investing £12mn in HM Revenue and Customs over the next year to “help prevent error and fraud in tax credits”. In his statement, Sunak said this will “support a smooth transition” to Universal Credit.
It will also help claimants keep their tax credits claims accurate through regular health-check calls, compliance activity, and the use of SMS nudges, the statement said.
The investments in counter-fraud efforts, totalling £60mn, form part of Sunak’s wider aim to make government departments such as HMRC more efficient.
In the statement, it was revealed that the chancellor will chair a new ‘Cabinet Committee on Efficiency and Value for Money’.
This is designed to drive efficiency across the public sector and ensure departments demonstrate clear value for money for the taxpayer in government spending, the statement said.
Alongside this, the government is also launching a new ‘Innovation Challenge’ across central departments to “crowdsource ideas” for how the government can operate more efficiently.
These investments in efficiency add to the additional £510mn announced in December to increase the Department for Work and Pensions’ capacity to prevent and detect fraud and error, and collect more debt.
This investment, the government said, is forecast to deliver savings of £3.15bn by 2026-27.