More work required to combat fraud in Government's overseas spending

25 April 2017

The Public Accounts Committee publishes report on the Department for International Development's approach to countering fraud in its overseas spending.

The risk of fraud in the UK Government’s overseas expenditure has changed considerably in recent years, primarily as a result of the Department for International Development’s (DFID’s) budget rising by more than a quarter since 2011 to nearly £10 billion, and a requirement to spend half of this in ‘fragile’ countries which are among the world’s most corrupt states.

The Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) and the British Council also work in challenging environments overseas, yet all three bodies report remarkably low levels of fraud. DFID’s recorded losses to fraud in 2015–16 were only 0.03% of its budget and the FCO and the British Council reported losses of only £16,000 and £35,000 respectively. DFID has improved its approach to countering fraud, but has more to do, particularly where it spends money through other bodies such as multilateral organisations and local delivery partners.

DFID, the FCO and the British Council all meet HM Treasury’s minimum requirements for reporting fraud in their Annual Report and Accounts by publishing details on all fraud cases over £300,000. However, public confidence in the Government’s ability to protect its overseas expenditure would be increased if the three bodies were more open about the instances of fraud they identify and what actions they take in response.

Further information

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