The government must pump more money into tackling economic crime amid an “alarming” increase in instances of fraud, according to Westminster’s Treasury Select Committee.
A new report from MPs on the committee also called for the government to entrust a single body with policing economic crime and one Whitehall department with responsibility for the area.
The report said the government must “give this work a far higher priority” and that economic crime “damages the reputation of the UK as a pre-eminent financial centre”.
The government’s Victims’ Commissioner estimates almost four-out-of-ten crimes in the UK are now fraud-related, after a surge in economic crime during Covid-19.
Around £2.3bn was lost by UK consumers last year through online scams in 2020 alone.
The government last month passed the Economic Crime Bill through parliament, which aims to stamp out dirty overseas money being laundered through the UK.
The new legislation will see the government create a “register of overseas entities” that will force overseas owners of British assets to reveal their true identities to ensure criminals “can no longer hold property behind secretive chains of shell companies”.
Treasury Select Committee chair and Tory MP Mel Stride said: “The government has stated that lots of work on combatting fraud is in train, and it places much emphasis on its upcoming Economic Crime Bill.
“However, it appears to dismiss our recommendation for the creation of a single law enforcement agency with responsibility for fighting fraud and a single government department tasked with overall responsibility in this area. This may be a significant missed opportunity.”