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Government to set up Public Sector Fraud Authority amid concerns at abuse of Covid support schemes

The Government will launch a £25m ‘Public Sector Fraud Authority’ in July in a bid to recover money stolen from Covid support schemes and spot suspicious companies and people seeking Government contracts.

Counter fraud experts will also mount mandatory inspections on Whitehall programmes to uncover vulnerabilities, the Treasury said.

The new body, based in the Cabinet Office, will recruit an “elite team” of data analytics experts and economic crime investigators, it added. The Government claimed the new authority would double its counter fraud capacity.

Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak said: “We will chase down fraudsters who rip off the taxpayer. This elite fraud squad, backed by £25 million, will ensure the latest counter fraud techniques are being used to track down these criminals.

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“People are rightly furious that fraudsters took advantage of our vital Covid support schemes, and we are acting to make sure they pay the price.”

Recruitment for the Chief Executive of the Public Sector Fraud Authority will start in the coming weeks. The new CEO will answer directly to the Chancellor and the Minister for Brexit Opportunities and Government Efficiency, Jacob Rees-Mogg.

In January this year Cabinet Office Minister Lord Agnew resigned in the House of Lords over the Government’s decision to write off £4.3bn in fraudulent Covid loans.

The Chancellor is also expected to announce today (27 April) the launch of the Government’s Plan for Protecting the Taxpayer. This is intended “to cut waste by slashing the Government’s property bill, doubling the NHS efficiencies target, reducing non-front line civil service head count, as well as ‘quango’ budgets and cracking down on fraud and error”.

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