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Audit commission identifies £215 million of public sector losses

The Audit Commission has today issued a report for the tax year 2008/9 in which cross-referencing of records in areas such as deaths, expired visas, benefits, students and tax returns has identified a loss of public sector finance in the region of £215 million. This money is alleged to have been lost due to error, fraud and overpayments by an array of local governments in the UK at a time when public-sector financing has never been under more scrutiny.

A similar exercise in 2006/07 identified around £140 million in irregular payments and it would seem that lessons have not as yet been learned. Many people will be puzzled to find that information available to the UK government is not already used at the point of payment to check claims and payments made by local councils. Surely this is the whole reason why we have records about the UK public in order to cross-reference and confirm various important facts?

Instances of fraud, error and overpayments are not exactly commonplace in the UK public sector but there has been a significant increase in all areas over the last few years. Whether cost-cutting in the public-sector could push his figure higher in the short term is debatable because ultimately if there are insufficient people checking figures then surely more errors could potentially occur?

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