John Manzoni has outlined proposals for the creation of a cross-government counter fraud profession that he described as “good news for the public sector and bad news for fraudsters”.
The civil service chief executive and Cabinet Office permanent secretary said the profession would be launched on 9 October and tasked with tackling fraud worth up to £49bn.
Around 10,000 central government employees work to fight economic crime, and the first 1,822 specialists will join the new profession later this year, according to a civil service blog written by Manzoni.
Manzoni said: “Fraud is a peculiar crime. By its very nature, it is hidden and always evolving in response to changes in society, such as advances in technology. It is also a constant threat to both individuals and organisations in all sectors.
“In the public sector, fraud damages the services we provide that people rely on, and it can quite often ruin lives.
“To fight it, we’ve got to find it; and to find it, we’ve got to build the right counter fraud capability across the civil service.”
Manzoni said that in 2016-17, civil servants detected fraud worth £116.5m, some £85.7m more than in 2014-15 after standardised measurements of fraud were agreed across government.
He said: “This is great progress, but the size of the challenge is still big: fraud in the public sector is estimated to be between £31bn-£49bn. These figures are a graphic reminder that investing in those leading the fight against fraud is not only right, but necessary.”
The new professional group had been built “by the experts, for the experts” across government, Manzoni added.
Professional standards and guidance that will underpin the profession have been agreed, and seven government organisations have had their learning programmes assessed against them.
More than 100 organisations from multiple sectors that engage with government’s counter fraud professionals have started to share their learning programmes and develop joint products.
The counter fraud profession has been in development for the past two years. Lesley Hume, the fraud, error debt and grants executive director at the Cabinet Office, wrote in Civil Service World in 2016 that specialists were working to build “a development programme that will provide formal training, accreditation and recognition for counter fraud professionals in their various fields”.
“The Cabinet Office Centre of Expertise for Counter Fraud is determined that the work of counter fraud specialists across government is recognised and that we build up our counter fraud capability,” she said.