Thank you for contacting me about the National Fraud Initiative (NFI).
The NFI exists to improve the fraud detection capabilities of public bodies by improving access to data from local organisations at a national level. All local authorities and all NHS trusts participate, as do police authorities, fire and rescue services and other public and private organisations.
I understand that the NFI currently collects more than 20 data types and includes more than 30 million data records such as housing benefit, social housing waiting lists, council tax, electoral register and public sector payroll. To date, the NFI has detected fraud and overpayments in the UK worth nearly £2 billion. This is a remarkable and important achievement.
The Government is now seeking to extend the NFI’s data matching powers in four specific ways as provided for in the Local Audit and Accountability Act 2014. This includes to assist in the prevention and detection of crime other than fraud; to assist in the apprehension and prosecution of offenders; to assist in the prevention and detection of errors and; to assist in the recovery of debt owed to public bodies.
I fully appreciate that these are significant changes about which you feel strongly. The Government has held a consultation on the proposals and responses are currently being analysed. A Government response to the consultation will be issued in due course.
Thank you again for taking the time to contact me.
Sally-Ann Hart MP