Billions lost to fraud and error during UK's pandemic spending spree

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UK authorities must fig retired really to stock spending information crossed departments aft up to £59 cardinal ($74.4 billion) successful expenditure was mislaid to fraud and correction early successful nan pandemic.

This is according to a study from nan National Audit Office (NAO), which recovered levels of fraud successful UK nationalist spending grew sharply during nan pandemic. The fraud reported successful accounts nan watchdog audits roseate from £5.5 cardinal successful nan 2 years earlier nan pandemic to £21.0 cardinal successful nan 2 years after.

Estimates from nan Public Sector Fraud Authority (PSFA), nan NAO pointed out, propose fraud successful UK nationalist spending could person reached £58.8 cardinal during nan 2020-2021 financial year, covering nan tallness of nan COVID-19 outbreak.

The NAO said deficiency of entree to information was portion of nan logic authorities struggled to support up pinch nan detonation successful fraud.

"Officials told america that they struggled to entree nan information that they needed that existed elsewhere successful authorities to support emergency responses. The caller pandemic demonstrated that agreeing information sharing nether nan Digital Economy Act 2017 tin beryllium cumbersome and return excessively overmuch clip to beryllium applicable successful an emergency," nan study published this week said.

"Improving information and interoperability is simply a systemic situation for government. Public bodies person different approaches to information governance and information is dispersed crossed cardinal and section authorities bodies. Different package and hardware whitethorn beryllium used, and nan aforesaid accusation recorded successful different ways," the report [PDF] added.

The NAO recommends that nan Cabinet Office's Central Digital and Data Office activity pinch cardinal authorities departments and nan PSFA to fig retired what existing information sets mightiness beryllium needed to make payments and conflict fraud successful nan adjacent emergency, and fig retired whether they tin beryllium easy shared.

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An NAO study from past twelvemonth recovered that nan authorities was only astatine an early shape of utilizing intelligence, data-matching, and information analytics to forestall fraud and corruption.

"Officials moving successful counter-fraud told america that nan processes successful spot for sharing data, some betwixt and wrong departmental groups, are often slow and burdensome, often resulting successful incomplete aliases time-lagged information being shared," the NAO said [PDF].

An earlier publication from 2022 pointed retired that bequest systems and aging information "create analyzable applicable issues for data-sharing."

A study by nan Modernisation and Reform group published successful nan summer of 2021 indicated £2.3 cardinal of nan £4.7 cardinal authorities spent connected exertion successful 2019 was dedicated to "keeping nan lights on" activity connected "outdated bequest systems."

In nan US, nan Government Accountability Office estimated that nan full magnitude of fraud successful nan Unemployment Insurance programme unsocial during nan COVID-19 pandemic was astir apt $100 cardinal to $135 billion, aliases betwixt 11 and 15 of nan full benefits paid retired during nan period. ®