A staggering £21bn has been lost to fraudsters since the start of the pandemic, figures reveal

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A staggering £21bn has been lost to fraudsters since the start of the pandemic, figures reveal

The Government has lost £21 billion to fraudsters since the start of the Covid pandemic.And the National Audit Office (NAO) warned last night that was

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The Government has lost £21 billion to fraudsters since the start of the Covid pandemic.

And the National Audit Office (NAO) warned last night that was ‘very unlikely’ that most of the taxpayers’ money will be recovered.

The spending watchdog revealed that fraud losses rose from a total of £5.5 billion in the two years before the pandemic to £21 billion in the following two years.

The NAO said that of the £21 billion, just over £7 billion related to schemes introduced by ministers during the pandemic. It added that HMRC expected to have recovered only £1.1 billion by the time its taxpayer protection taskforce is wound down.

The NAO said the creation of the Public Sector Fraud Authority – which was established last year in response to concerns about fraud during the pandemic – represented a chance for a ‘renewed focus on fraud and corruption’.

The spending watchdog revealed that fraud losses rose from a total of £5.5 billion in the two years before the pandemic to £21 billion in the following two years

The spending watchdog revealed that fraud losses rose from a total of £5.5 billion in the two years before the pandemic to £21 billion in the following two years

The spending watchdog revealed that fraud losses rose from a total of £5.5 billion in the two years before the pandemic to £21 billion in the following two years

But the watchdog warned the authority needed to be ‘influential across government if it is to achieve the required changes in culture, preventive approach and robust assessment of risks’.

NAO head Gareth Davies said: ‘There has been a substantial increase in the level of fraud reported in the annual reports and accounts we audit. It creates the risk that people come to perceive fraud and corruption across government as normal and tolerated. If not tackled, this could affect public confidence in the integrity of public services.’

A government spokesman said: ‘We are overhauling how we tackle public sector fraud to ensure we chase down every pound stolen from British taxpayers.’

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