Hidden in the Chancellors recent Spring Statement was some potential good news in the quest to tackle to ever increasing scourge of financial fraud.
Sunak announced an additional £48 million to be invested into the creation of a new counter fraud agency over the next three years. The new agency will work with the British Business Bank and the National Intelligence Service, which are already well established. It seems that the government had acknowledged the widespread growth in fraud and decided to take action, which is welcome.
Alongside this new investment, an extra £12 million was announced for HMRC to be specifically used to tackle fraud in tax credits. This is part of an overall drive to better efficiency and value for money within government departments, especially those dealing with welfare payments.
In other news, The FCA has announced that it will take over direct regulation of the Open Banking system under its subsidiary the Payments System Regulator.
The Open Banking initiative was established to allow third party firms to plug into the banking system (via the nine main UK banks) to be able to provide alternative but complimentary financial products to bank customers, but it has so far failed to deliver its potential. Although 5 million people do currently use Open Banking technology, the plan is to increase this over the coming years to over 50 million people or 60% of the UK population. This is clearly going to be a big challenge for the FCA.
Finally, the FCA has also reported a 50% increase in cyber security reports from regulated firms. This was 116 reports where firms had been targeted by cyber criminals breaching their data security. In all these instances the cyber attacks involved breaches of personal data. It’s unclear whether the attacks resulted in the loss of client funds, we would imagine not, or it would have been reported.