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Fraud and error in financial, welfare and revenue services: a systematic map of the empirical research evidence with particular reference to ‘notification of changes of circumstances’

Abstract

What do we want to know?

In the context of the overpayment of benefits, this systematic map aims to describe existing research literature on the process of notifying a change of circumstance (CoC) in the fields of financial products and services, welfare provision, taxation and tax credit systems.

Who wants to know and why?

The UK Department for Work and Pensions estimates that about 2 percent of its spending on benefits was paid as a result of fraud and error and wishes to establish strategies to reduce that figure.

What did we find?

The 249 studies in the systematic map break down as follows:

  • 128 UK non-evaluative studies. Of these, only six studied CoCs and 39 covered fraud.
  • 46 intervention studies. Only a small proportion focused on initiatives to encourage customers to report CoCs and none aimed at preventing or minimising error. Over a third covered detection strategies; a quarter evaluated integration strategies; and smaller proportions evaluated deterrence or prevention initiatives. Most studies focused on state welfare provision or the insurance industry.
  • 82 value for money studies, of which over half reported the results of audits of integrated strategies to tackle fraud and error or improve efficiency. Fourteen studies focused on prevention and eight on detection schemes. Deterrence strategies were investigated in seven studies and a further two focused on risk assessment. Twenty-six reports evaluated initiatives in revenue collection organisations, 18 in state welfare provision, 11 in healthcare provision and 27 in one or more government department or entity.

What are the implications?

The results suggest that there may be sufficient existing research to address the following questions:

  • What are the different views/values held about personal responsibility and the responsibilities of others in relation to financial services and do these vary depending on the type of services and an individual’s relationship to them (e.g. whether they ‘gain’ or ‘lose’)?
  • What are the different views/values about personal responsibility and the responsibilities of others in relation to the specific issue of notification of changes of circumstances in relation to financial service use?
  • What is the impact of different strategies for tackling fraud/error?

Gaps in research activity are also identified.

How did we get these results?

A wide range of bibliographic databases, web sites and search engines was searched using an iteratively developed, piloted list of search terms. Standard systematic review techniques were used to apply inclusion criteria, code the included studies and create a systematic map.

This report should be cited as:

Bangpan M, Newman M,  Tripney J, Matthews P, Niza C, Sinclair J (2011) Fraud and error in financial, welfare and revenue services: a systematic map of the empirical research evidence with particular reference to ‘notification of changes of circumstances'. Working Paper No 97. London: Department for Work and Pensions.

  
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