The Public Sector 'Must Do More to Better Protect Itself against Fraud'

Article excerpt

THE public sector is better protected against fraud than private sector companies, claims research from accountants and business advisers PKF and the University of Portsmouth.

However, according to their report, The Resilience to Fraud of the UK Public Sector, the performance is inconsistent.

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The analysis assessed hos w well the public sector protects itself against fraud, highlighting where it is getting it right and identifying areas for improvement.

In Wales about 344,000 people are employed in the public sector - that's 27.5% of the working population, compared to the UK average of 21.2%.

Using a 50-point scale to assess the fraud resilience of 267 public bodies, the study found that public sector organisations achieved an average score of 34.4 points, compared with 30.6 points among private sector companies.

However, the results reveal a widely inconsistent performance within the public sector, with the NHS scoring best overall with 44.4 points, while higher education institutions scored poorly with just 28.9 points.

The report found that the public sector has adequate measures in place to tackle fraud after losses have been incurred, but identified a number of weaknesses in terms of pre-emptive counter fraud activities.

In particular, the report discovered that fewer than 50% of public sector bodies accurately estimated the cost of fraud, making it difficult for them to devise appropriate and adequately-resourced counter strategies. Among central government organisations, it was also found that in more than half of them counter-fraud staff do not receive any professional training. The report calls for urgent progress in these areas.

Tim Smith, partner in charge at the Cardiff office of PKF, said: "The public sector's inconsistent approach to protecting itself against fraud is concerning. …