A reader of the detail in my most recent blog on progress with the Universal Credit System picked up on the reference to “Fighting Identity Crime Together”. This was one of the fifty or so actions listed when the Fighting Fraud Together strategy was launched. At the first annual FFT Conference (an excellent event and congratulations to all concerned) I learned that this was new the name for the programme to tighten up on the security of those government issued credentials that are commonly used in support of fraud (from birth certificates, driving license and passports through to NINOs and NHS Cards). I was also given to expect an announcement before Christmas, or early in the New Year, after Ministers had been briefed.
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That conference was also where I first heard the term FOGGING: “the false obtaining of genuine”. This now appears to be overhauling the use of forged credentials – because when private sector counter staff take your utility bill and passport into the back office, before coming out with the contract for you to sign, they increasingly do on-line checks. Those with forged, as opposed to fogged, credentials may then be kept talking until the police arrive.
I am not suprised that nothing has yet been announced regarding Fighting Identity Crime Together. It will not be at all easy to get co-operation across those departments whose systems are being milked not only to obtain public sector credentials but for the information on file that will also enable these to be used obtain more valuable private sector credentials. However, if we are looking for priority actions for announcment in the budget to help get public sector finances under control, this should surely be one of them.
The public sector is losing £billions from fraud.
The private sector is also losing tens of £billions in taxable profits from fraud.
Action is this space is also integral to getting illegal immigration and related health tourism under control.
It is therefore central to halting demands for more extreme action as voters lose patience. The UKIP showing in Rotherham was as big a message to Labour as Eastleigh was to Coservative and LibDems. Hence their change of tune.
The Public Sector is making heavy weather of using cross-departmental data sharing to improve service to those entitled to it and to reduce fraud. The criminal sector has no such inhibitions. The consequent cost is now a significant drain on national finance and obstacle to recovery. That cost is being blamed, in part correctly, on the on-line sector and its continued preference for selling expensive and inneffective snake oil instead of cheaper and more effective co-operative solutions. But effective action also entails action on security skills and understanding. Hence the critical importance of the programmes being planned via e-Skills. I think that my next blog should be on the current state of my “map” of cyberskills initiatives.