Tuesday 23 February 2016 10:53 am

Government has poor grasp on fraud levels and the information it holds is incomplete, warns National Audit Office report

Government lacks the right information to accurately detect and monitor levels of fraud, according to a report by the National Audit Office (NAO).

The report, which was released today and focuses on fraud at central government expenditure level, warned that, with the exception of details on tax credit and benefit fraud, information collected by the Cabinet Office is full of gaps and inconsistencies.

The NAO also pointed out that the UK government's detected levels of fraud were significantly lower than estimates for the EU and the US. While the NAO is cautious about using these figures as direct comparisons, it stated that the degree of difference indicated that there could be frauds going unreported. 

In light of its findings, the NAO recommended that government departments should undertake thorough fraud risk assessments for new programmes they are planning to implement and aim to improve the completeness of the fraud data they hold.

The NAO also recommended that, once the Cabinet Office felt confidence that it was collecting complete information, it should publish an annual report to improve transparency and raise awareness about fraud.

A Cabinet Office spokesperson said:

"We welcome the NAO’s findings. We are committed to having the best quality fraud data available across government and are working with departments to ensure this data collection is being done in the best possible way."