National Fraud Initiative (NFI)
As a Council we are required by law to protect the public funds that we administer. We may share information that we are given with other organisations responsible for auditing or administering public funds, in order to prevent and detect fraud. An example of this is data matching.
What is data matching?
Data matching involves comparing computer records held by one organisation with records held by the same or another organisation 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 indicates that there is an inconsistency that requires further investigation. No assumption can be made as to whether there is fraud, error or other explanation until an investigation is completed.
Why do we carry out data matching?
Data matching is a useful tool for identifying instances of poor data quality, error or fraud.
What is the National Fraud Initiative (NFI)?
The NFI is a national data matching exercise which is undertaken every two years. There is a mandatory requirement for the Council to participate in this exercise which is seen as a key tool in the fight against fraud.
NFI provides fraud prevention solutions through legislative powers outlined in the Local Audit and Accountability Act 2014 – schedule 9. This allows local authorities to conduct data matching exercises to assist in the prevention and detection of fraud.
This data matching is subject to a Code of Practice.
How does it work?
Data provided by some 1,300 participating organisations from across the public and private sector, government departments and other national agencies is matched to identify instances of poor data quality, error or fraud. Since the initiative was introduced in 1996 £1.17 billion of fraud and overpayments have been detected.
Specific sets of data are extracted from the Council’s systems on a given date. These are uploaded to a secure site which is encrypted and password protected. The data is then matched against that of the other participating bodies and the output is released to a designated key contact within Internal Audit. Access to the exercise output is limited to maintain confidentiality.
Where to find further information
Details of the information that we are required to provide, the data matching code of practice and further information relating to the legal powers are set out in guidance. This is available on the Government’s website.