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National Fraud Initiative (NFI)

What is the National Fraud Initiative?

The Audit Commission began the National Fraud Initiative in 1996, with the aim of preventing and detecting fraud and erroneous payments. To achieve this audited public bodies, such as local councils, central government, government departments, the police, and the NHS supplied electronic data that could be cross checked by the departments taking part in the initiative to identify discrepancies.

What has it achieved?

The NFI has been a highly effective tool in detecting fraud and overpayments, and delivering savings to the public purse. Since its commencement in 1996, NFI exercises resulted in the identification of more than £22 million of fraud and overpayments in Wales, and £939 million across the UK.

This document provides an overview of the outcomes and includes case studies illustrating the types of fraud and erroneous payments identified by the exercise.

How does data matching work?

The Auditor General for Wales appoints an auditor to review the accounts of this authority. It is this auditor who is responsible for carrying out the data matching exercise.

Data matching involves comparing the computer records held by one public body against those held by another public body. When a discrepancy occurs between the records of these bodies, an investigation will be necessitated. Until the investigation has been concluded no assumption of culpability is made.

What does the Audit Commission expect of Wrexham Council?

Wrexham Council is required by law to protect the public funds that it administers.

The Auditor General currently requires us to participate in a data matching exercise to assist in the prevention and detection of fraud and error. The Council are therefore asked to submit particular sets of data to the Auditor General to allow data matching exercises to be undertaken.

What authority does the Audit Commission have?

The use of data by the Auditor General in the data matching exercise is carried out with statutory authority under its powers in Part 3A of the Public Audit (Wales) Act 2004, and does not require the consent of individuals concerned under the Data Protection Act.

Please note Wrexham Council and the Audit Commission are bound by the Data Protection Act and all information shared between these parties is done securely and without prejudice.

Data matching by the Auditor General is subject to a Code of Practice. For information about this code and the Auditor General’s legal powers please go to: www.wao.gov.uk/

Or contact Kate Febry, WAO NFI Co-Ordinator, Wales Audit Office, 24 Cathedral Road, Cardiff, CF11 9LF, or call 029 2032 0616.