Fighting Fraud and Corruption Locally: Better Protecting our Communities and Public Funds

Pips Houghton
June 24, 2024

In our latest blog Rachael Tiffen, an honorary Board Member of the Fighting Fraud and Corruption Locally group and Director of Public Sector at fraud prevention service at Cifas discusses how local government are fighting fraud and corruption locally to better protect our communities and public funds.

‘In 2009, the then-government published the Smarter Government Report which included a recommendation to look at fraud in local authorities. Working at the National Fraud Authority at the time – and having a local authority background – I was given the task of researching activity in local government.

The launch of the research began a journey for local government and a national strategy that was endorsed by government and key stakeholders across the local government sector, and the strategy was called Fighting Fraud Locally. Published in 2010, the strategy provided frameworks and activity to support counter-fraud action from the buy-in stage, all the way through to culture and operational work, with leadership pilots rolled out.

Having helped to create the framework, the Home Office handed over the initiative to local government in 2013 so it could lead and manage the activity itself – effectively making it by the sector, for the sector.

Since then, two further strategies have been researched and developed by local government. Whilst I and my employers, CIPFA and Cifas, have held the pen, these have been collaborative exercises under the direction of the Local Government Association (LGA) and a board of senior stakeholders. Additionally, Cifas took over as pro-bono secretariat in 2018.

The most recent strategy, Fighting Fraud and Corruption Locally (FFCL), was produced in 2020. As the Board agreed that many of the existing themes remained the same, the main body of the FFCL 2020s strategy was able to remain intact but was to be kept up to date by living appendices created collaboratively by local government and related stakeholders.

What the FFCL 2020s strategy represents is an excellent example of collaboration and the sector developing its own best practice. Formally endorsed and cleared by the Society of Local Authority Chief Executives (Solace), the LGA, and Directors of Finance, the strategy provides effective pillars of activity for local authorities (LAs) to work on and is underpinned by the underlying importance of protection for public funds and residents.

The FFCL 2020s strategy created a network of leads from all existing regional groups, a new FFCL Regional Group which feeds into the large network of related groups of auditors and others working in the area – a truly collaborative effort to say the least. As a result, our collective research led to the establishment of working groups of LAs who created good practice appendices which other Board members assisted with. These appendices include guidance on how to embed the pillars operationally by Durham County Council and Norfolk County Council, alongside a ‘Slipping Through the Net’ guide on managing the insider threat which is supported by the UK’s largest not-for-profit fraud prevention service, Cifas. Additionally, Reed and the Better Hiring Institute have supported on recruitment good practice and a group of LAs have created the very soon-to-be published Adult Social Care Toolkit which focusses on how to tackle this area of fraud. These are held in the FFCL Knowledge Hub pages open to LA counter fraud investigation staff and includes a lively discussion forum.

Since 2020, there have been two awards ceremonies and three conferences held via the FFCL, as well as numerous workshops with the FFCL Regional Group on Covid-19 grants with the HMRC, Home Office and the National Crime Agency, and the Failure to Prevent Fraud offence. In addition, the group has responded to the Home Affairs Committee and other bodies on legislative changes, Lawyers in Local Government (LLG) have shown their support by commissioning Trowers & Hamlin to produce LA-specific advice and information on Failure to Prevent, and a collaborative and educative toolkit – including a webinar, guidance, and cheat sheets – which will be supported by FFCL Board members and Cifas.

Following the workshops too, one of the latest additions to the FFCL 2020s has been to create a specific section of the document for senior stakeholder activities, targeting CEOs, Local Elected Members, External Auditors and Audit Committees. This was created by a group of LAs and endorsed by the LGA, Solace and others, and we’re seeing many examples of LAs applying the recent addition and subsequently producing annual assessments to the Audit Committee to better protect funds and our communities and residents.

For more information about the FFCL and the strategy, visit here.’

Rachael Tiffen, honorary Board Member of the Fighting Fraud and Corruption Locally group and Director of Public Sector at fraud prevention service, Cifas.


Join us next March for Counter Fraud 2025, to hear more examples of innovation and best practice from across the sector alongside other key topics and the latest technological advances in the field. The Counter-Fraud Conference is the UK's leading counter-fraud event.