National fraud initiative
All local authorities are required by law to protect the public funds they administer. They may share information provided to them with other bodies responsible for auditing or administering public funds, in order to prevent and detect fraud.
The Cabinet Office appoints an auditor to audit the accounts of local authorities. It is also responsible for carrying out data matching exercises.
Data matching involves comparing computer records held by one body against other computer records held by the same or another body 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 may indicate that there is an inconsistency which requires further investigation. No assumption can be made as to whether there is fraud, error or other explanation until an investigation is carried out.
The Cabinet Office currently requires us to participate in a data matching exercise to assist in the prevention and detection of fraud. We are required to provide particular sets of data to the Cabinet Office for matching for each exercise, and these are set out in the Cabinet Office's guidance, which can be found at the National fraud initiative website (opens in a new window).
The use of data by the Cabinet Office in a data matching exercise is carried out with statutory authority under its powers in Part 6 of the Local Audit and Accountability Act 2014. It does not require the consent of the individuals concerned under the Data Protection Act 1998. Data matching by the Cabinet Office is subject to a Code of Practice. This may be found at National fraud initiative website (opens in a new window).
For further information on the Cabinet Office's legal powers and the reasons why it matches particular information, see the National fraud initiative website (opens in a new window).
For further information on data matching at Christchurch Borough Council, East Dorset District Council and Purbeck District Council contact Glenda Chambers, Partnership Audit Manager on 01202 795487.
For further information on data matching at Dorset County Council, Weymouth & Portland Borough Council, West Dorset District Council and North Dorset District Council, contact South West Audit Partnership Audit Manager Jo George on 01305 838315.