The ICB has a duty to protect the public funds it administers and as such participates in the National Fraud Initiative. This is an electronic data matching exercise conducted by the Cabinet Office, under statutory powers, for the purposes of preventing and detecting fraudulent and erroneous payments from the public purse. The exercise is run every two years.
The National Fraud Initiative has enabled participating organisations to prevent and detect £245 million fraud and error in the period 1st April 2018 to 4th April 2020. This brings cumulative outcomes since 1996 for NFI participants to £1.93 billion.
The types of frauds and errors previously identified by the NFI in the NHS include:
- NHS employees with no right to work or reside in the UK
- Employees working elsewhere whilst on sick leave
- NHS workers fraudulently claiming housing and council tax benefits
- Overpayment of invoices resulting from the payment of duplicate invoices and credit notes
- Occupational pension payments paid to deceased pensioners several years after their death.
The Cabinet Office’s data matching involves comparing computer records held by one body against other computer records held by the same or another body to see how far they match. This is usually personal information. Computerised data matching allows potentially fraudulent claims and payments to be identified. Where a match is found it may indicate that there is an inconsistency which requires further investigation. No assumption can be made as to whether there is fraud, error or other explanation until an investigation is carried out.
Participation in the data matching exercise assists in the prevention and detection of fraud and involves the provision of particular sets of data to the Cabinet Office for matching for each exercise, and these are set out in the Cabinet Office’s guidance, which can be found at https://www.gov.uk/guidance/national-fraud-initiative-public-sector-data-requirements
The use of data by the Cabinet Office in a data matching exercise is carried out with statutory authority under Part 6 of the Local Audit and Accountability Act 2014. It does not require the consent of the individuals concerned under the General Data Protection Regulations 2018.
Data matching by the Cabinet Office is subject to a Code of Practice. This may be found at https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/750372/Code_of_Data_Matching_Practice.pdf
Details of the Cabinet Office’s data deletion schedule can be found here https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/741323/The-NFI-Data-Deletion-Schedule.pdf
For further information on the Cabinet Office’s legal powers and the reasons why it matches particular information see https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/national-fraud-initiative
Further details will also be published on the local intranet and in briefings/newsletters. The key contact for the ICB is Nikki Cooper and if you have any queries regarding the exercise she can be contacted by e-mail: email@example.com or mobile 07872 988939.