Guidance

National Fraud Initiative: additional public services

Find out about extra NFI services available for public sector organisations, such as flexible data matching and the Application Checker.

Many of the risks addressed by the National Fraud Initiative (NFI) are also relevant to central government departments, agencies or arm’s length bodies and other organisations, such as housing associations, academies and community rehabilitation companies. This guide lists the services that are available to public sector organisations.

NFI can help these organisations identify a range of issues, for example, eg individuals with no right to work in the UK, employees committing benefit fraud or working elsewhere, VAT overpayments, VAT overpayments, duplicate payments or creditors or employee interests in companies your organisation is trading with.

You can also read case studies showing how NFI has helped other organisations.

Services by sector

Central government

The Local Audit and Accountability Act 2014 transferred statutory powers to carry out data matching exercises to Cabinet Office. Central government bodies can share the benefits of the National Fraud Initiative by submitting payroll and creditors’ data for screening every 2 years. More frequent screening can be carried out in these areas using the NFI flexible data matching service (ReCheck) or Application Checker (AppCheck).

Housing associations

Our data screening in this area can help identify tenants who:

  • have no right to reside in the UK
  • are illegally subletting houses
  • are illegally claiming benefits
  • are abusing the ‘Right to buy’ scheme
  • are making invalid applications for housing

By identifying this type of fraud, we make sure that social houses can be recovered by social landlords and given to individuals who need them.

Education

Schools and education services have been affected by a number of changes over the past few years, more recently by the establishment of academies. Find out what services are available for academies.

Probation

Community rehabilitation companies can participate in NFI on a voluntary basis. NFI can help identify a range of issues, for example, individuals with no right to work in the UK, employees committing benefit fraud or working elsewhere, VAT overpayments, VAT overpayments, duplicate payments or creditors or employee interests in companies your organisation is trading with. Services available include payroll screening, creditors screening and flexible data matching (ReCheck).

Application Checker (App Check)

When people apply to your organisation, there is a risk that they are not who they say they are or that they have left out relevant information that might affect their entitlement to a benefit, service or employment. The NFI AppCheck tool can:

  • help you verify an applicant’s immigration status
  • cross-check an applicant’s identity against known fraudulent identities
  • check other NFI core data to verify the applicant’s entitlement, eg to tenancy applications or housing benefit

The service is easy to use and instantly provides key information about the applicant.

To use the Application Checker or to find out more, please contact us.

Flexible data matching (ReCheck)

ReCheck is a flexible data matching service which complements the national exercise and can help identify fraud earlier. This service allows you to re-perform all of the existing NFI data matching, except creditors, at a time that suits you by uploading your organisation’s datasets for internal matching. The service includes data from the most recent NFI exercise and regularly refreshed immigration data from the Home Office, as well as student loans and Amberhill police data.

The service:

  • responds to your operational needs and organisational risks, allowing you to decide how often you re-perform matching
  • will help detect fraud either in your organisation or across multiple organisations that choose to come together as part of a data matching syndicate
  • generates high quality data matches and makes them available immediately
  • is undertaken using existing statutory data matching powers under part 6 of the Local Audit and Accountability Act 2014 and follows the Code of Data Matching Practice

Subscribers to the service can also pay an additional fee to undertake mortality screening.

Flexible mortality screening

Mortality screening can help organisations identify pensioners, blue badge holders, concessionary pass holders and care home residents that are deceased and can stop fraud and/or highlight overpayments.

NFI offers mortality screening against the following:

  • Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) deceased data which includes details of the deaths of all UK citizens, including some of those that have died overseas. The data also includes National Insurance numbers which improves the accuracy of the resulting matches
  • Disclosure of Death Registration Information (DDRI) – a list of deaths provided by the General Register Office (GRO) of England & Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland – on a monthly or ad hoc basis

This allows you to take advantage of the uniqueness of both data sources.

Timescales

Mortality screening to DWP deceased persons data takes place every 6 months, with data submissions in June and November. Flexible mortality screening to GRO DDRI data can be carried out at any point throughout the year. To contact the NFI team for further information please email nfiqueries@cabinetoffice.gov.uk.

Payroll screening

Employers have a legal responsibility to check that they don’t employ individuals who do not have the right to work in the UK. Under the Immigration, Asylum and Nationality Act 2006, you could be liable for a civil penalty of up to £20,000 per illegal worker.

Taking part in the NFI helps address this risk of employing someone with no entitlement to work in the UK. Publicising participation should act as a strong deterrent against fraudulent employment applications and employee identity fraud.

We match payroll data to Home Office immigration data. This enables us to identify employees who have no right to work or stay in the UK.

The NFI can help you:

  • comply with UK employment legislation by identifying employees with no right to work or no right to stay in the UK
  • identify potential fraudsters working for your organisation
  • identify employees who may be breaking their contract of employment

Creditors screening

As part of the two yearly national exercise we provide creditor payment screening and have developed a range of tests to identify duplicate payments. Aside from the financial benefits, data matches help to improve the efficiency of organisations’ creditor payment systems.

The NFI can help you identify duplicate payments and incorrect VAT payments that can be recovered, caused by incorrect supplier invoices, input errors and VAT miscalculations. The reasons for this are wide ranging, from human error to poor processes, controls that can be overridden and the fact that accounting systems can only carry out basic checks.

The matching can also help you strengthen your internal control arrangements, by highlighting system weaknesses or common errors within your creditor data. For example, we identify multiple occurrences of the same creditor but with different reference numbers or differently spelt organisation titles.

How to get involved

To discuss your requirements or sign up to take part please contact the NFI team. You can also look at the data specifications guide, which sets out the data you would need to submit for screening.

View fees for the services listed in this guide.

Bespoke services

Our data matching powers allow us to undertake any data matching for the purpose of preventing or detecting fraud. We appreciate that organisations hold a number of different data sets and we are happy to discuss any bespoke data matching you feel may address a particular fraud risk to your organisation. This could involve matching data you hold to data that NFI already collects or to other data that we may be able to secure on your behalf.

We can offer workshops to organisations to demonstrate how NFI works and to explore how we can help your organisation address specific fraud risks through data screening.

Please contact us for information or to request a workshop.

Published 20 March 2015
Last updated 16 June 2016 + show all updates
  1. Updated information on National Fraud Initiative's additional public services.
  2. Update to Flexible mortality screening timescales
  3. Added document about the Application Checker
  4. First published.