Background to the report

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, the Government Counter Fraud Function estimated that the level of fraud and error against government was already between £29.3 billion and £51.8 billion annually.

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The National Audit Office’s (NAO) work over the past year has shown that the risk of fraud and error has risen significantly during the pandemic.

In some cases this is because some counter-fraud controls were no longer safe to operate; for example, the Department for Work & Pensions’ requirement for face to face meetings with benefit applicants. In other cases, the speed with which some payments have been made has left government exposed to higher levels of fraud and error than would normally be the case.

The NAO’s work highlights what can be done to measure how much fraud and error there is in the system, put effective counter-fraud and error controls in place and detect and pursue overpayments to protect the taxpayer’s interest.

Scope of the report

The guide covers:

  • The increase in fraud and error risk.
  • Expectations on government bodies to be transparent about how they tackle fraud and error.
  • How the NAO ensures accountability and transparency over fraud and error in its audits.
  • Good practice against our fraud and error framework.