Fraud is estimated to account for 40% of all crime committed across the UK. Fraud and error in public spending are estimated to cost the taxpayer up to £51.8 billion every year, around £25 billion of which is outside the tax and benefits system. Each Department is responsible for managing its own risks of fraud and error leading to varying approaches depending on their understanding of the risks and the importance given to them. In 2018 Cabinet Office established a Government Counter Fraud Function which works to increase the understanding of fraud risks and threats to government by instilling professional standards and bringing together the 16,000 counter fraud professionals across the public sector. HM Treasury is responsible for setting out the counter fraud requirements for government departments and approving policy spend.
Government introduced many vital support schemes in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, with BEIS, DWP and HMRC responsible for some of the schemes identified as having the highest risk of fraud or error. Between April 2020 and March 2021, fraud within Universal Credit rose to an all-time high of 14.5% and BEIS estimates between 35% and 60% of loans issued through the Bounce Back Loan Scheme may not be repaid.