Office conducts data matching exercises to assist in the prevention and
detection of fraud. This is one of the ways in which the Minister for the
Cabinet Office takes responsibility within government for public sector
efficiency and reform. The Minister for the Cabinet Office is also the Chair of
the Fraud, Error and Debt Taskforce, the strategic decision-making body for
all fraud and error, debt and grant efficiency initiatives across government.
involves comparing sets of data, such as the payroll or benefits records of a
body, against other records held by the same or another body to see how far
they match. The data is usually personal information. The data matching allows
potentially fraudulent claims and payments to be identified. Where a match is
found it may indicate that there is an inconsistency that requires further
investigation. No assumption can be made as to whether there is fraud, error or
other explanation until an investigation is carried out.
The processing of
data by the Cabinet Office in a data matching exercise is carried out with
statutory authority under its powers in Part 6 of the Local Audit and
Accountability Act 2014. It does not require the consent of the individuals
concerned under the Data Protection Act 1998.
participating in the Cabinet Office’s data matching exercises receive a report
of matches that they should investigate, so as to detect instances of fraud,
over- or under-payments and other errors, to take remedial action and update
their records accordingly.
2. Legal basis
From 1 April 2015
the National Fraud Initiative will be conducted using the data matching powers
bestowed on the Minister for the Cabinet Office by Part 6 of the Local Audit
and Accountability Act 2014 (LAAA). Previous exercises were conducted by the
Audit Commission under Part IIA of the Audit Commission Act 1998.
Under the LAAA
- A relevant minister (meaning a
Secretary of State or the Minister for the Cabinet Office) may carry out
data matching exercises or arrange for them to be conducted for the
purpose of assisting in the prevention and detection of fraud.
- A relevant minister may require
certain persons to provide data for data matching exercises. Currently
these are a relevant authority (as defined in section 2 of LAAA); a best
value authority (as defined in section 1 of the Local Government Act 1999)
which is not a relevant authority; and an NHS foundation trust.
- Other bodies and persons may
participate in its data matching exercises on a voluntary basis where the
relevant minister considers it appropriate. Where they do so, the statute
states that there is no breach of confidentiality and generally removes
any other restrictions in providing the data to the relevant minister.
- The requirements of the Data
Protection Act 1998, however, continue to apply.
- A relevant minister may disclose data
provided for data matching and the results of data matching exercises
where this assists in the prevention and detection of fraud, including
disclosure to bodies that have provided the data and to auditors that they
- A relevant minister may disclose both
data provided for data matching and the results of data matching to the
Auditor General for Wales, the Comptroller and Auditor General for
Northern Ireland, the Auditor General for Scotland, the Accounts
Commission for Scotland and Audit Scotland, for the purposes of assisting
in preventing and detecting fraud or in connection with audit functions of
- Wrongful disclosure of data obtained
for the purposes of data matching by any person is an offence and liable
on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding level 5 on the standard
- A relevant minister may prescribe a
scale or scales of fees in respect of data matching.
- A relevant minister must prepare and
publish a Code of Practice. All bodies conducting or participating in its
data matching exercises, including the relevant minister himself, must
have regard to the Code.
- A relevant minister may report
publicly on his data matching activities in a manner the relevant minister
considers appropriate for bringing it to the attention of those members of
the public who may be interested.
required to provide or which volunteer data for matching
- district and county councils
- London and metropolitan boroughs
- unitary authorities
- police authorities
- fire and rescue authorities
- pension authorities
- NHS Trusts and strategic health
- Foundation Trusts
- Clinical Commissioning Groups
- passenger transport authorities
- passenger transport executives
- waste authorities
- Greater London Authority and its
In addition, the
following bodies provide data to the Cabinet Office for matching on a voluntary
- private sector pension schemes
- Home Office
- Metropolitan Police – Operation
- special health authorities
- foundation trusts
- housing associations
- probation authorities
- national park authorities
- central government pensions schemes
- Insurance Fraud Bureau
- central government departments
- other private organisations/companies
4. The data
that is matched and the reasons for matching it
describing which datasets are matched by the Cabinet Office please refer to the
Cabinet Office’s guidance available on this website. The document NFI match types per participating body summarises the various match types for
each particular type of participating organisation.
5. Code of
data matching practice
Data matching by
the Cabinet Office is subject to a code of practice.
information about the Cabinet Office data matching exercises. You can also read national reports on the NFI published before 1 April 2015 by the
can write to:
Head of NFI
Red zone, 4th floor,
1 Horse Guards Road
London, SW1 2HQ