Chancellor Rishi Sunak will launch a £25m central government fraud taskforce in July to recover money stolen from Covid support schemes.
The Public Sector Fraud Authority (PSFA) will hire data analytics experts and economic crime investigators to recover money fraudulently taken from state-backed schemes and spot suspicious companies and people seeking government contracts.
The taskforce, which will become operational in July and will be based in the Cabinet Office, will start recruitment in the coming weeks, with candidates picked from counter fraud experts.
The new chief executive will answer to Chancellor Rishi Sunak (pictured) and the minister for Brexit opportunities and government efficiency, Jacob Rees-Mogg.
The PSFA will also enable counter fraud experts to conduct mandatory inspections on Whitehall programmes to uncover vulnerabilities
“We will chase down fraudsters who rip off the taxpayer,” Sunak said.
“This elite fraud squad, backed by £25m, will ensure the latest counter fraud techniques are being used to track down these criminals.
“People are rightly furious that fraudsters took advantage of our vital Covid support schemes, and we are acting to make sure they pay the price.”
“Hardworking taxpayers must and will be protected,” said Rees-Mogg.
“Anyone who tries to defraud the public purse will know that we as a government are coming for them and we are going to put them behind bars.”
Sunak will release further details on the PSFA when he chairs the first meeting of the efficiencies and value for money committee this afternoon.
This comes after the public accounts committee’s report, published today, attacked the government for being complacent in recovering funds from the bounce back loan scheme.
The department for business, energy and industrial strategy has estimated £4.9bn has been lost to fraud from the scheme.