Today I signed up to support the manifesto of Cifas – the anti-fraud body.
Fraud affects everyone in Newbury in some way – either as direct victims, or through higher taxes and fees as a result of the huge losses which occur. Last year alone there were 32,757 cases of fraud in the South East costing over £113m, according to Cifas’ figures.
The Cabinet Office estimates that the cost of fraud to the public sector is between £31billion and £56billion every year. The true cost to charities and the private sector is unknown.
Cifas’ Fraud Manifesto has three clear asks of the government:
§ That a national measure of fraud loss is created. Government needs to work with industry, charities and other interested parties to understand the scale of the loss. Until it is understood, we will not be able to tackle it.
§ For a government to lead on a co-ordinated education and awareness campaign on fraud, resourced jointly by Government and industry. People of all ages need to be savvier to frauds and fraudsters across the board in order to better help themselves.
§ A comprehensive review of the sentencing guidelines for fraud. The public must have faith that when crimes are prosecuted, fraudsters are punished appropriately. And criminals need to know that whether they defraud a multi-national company of millions, or swindle a widower’s pension, that they will face a tough sentence which reflects the impact of their crimes.
I’m happy to sign up to these measures and I’m pleased that Labour have announced that if we are elected we will introduce an Economic Crime Bill that would increase corporate fines for fraud as well as increasing the powers and resources of the Serious Fraud Office so that it can really get to grips with this serious issue that is costing us all so much.
Simon Dukes, Chief Executive of Cifas, said:
“One thing is clear – incidents of fraud are on the rise. The internet makes it easier and cheaper for fraudsters to try their luck and they are doing so at a greater pace and on an industrial scale.
“We are never going to arrest our way out of fraud. So we need to understand the scale of the threat we are facing in order to change behaviours and protect ourselves. And when we have evidence on the worst cases, citizens need to have confidence that fraudsters are being pursued with the full force of the law and that the punishment fits the crime.”