Data Sharing – National Fraud Initiative 2020/21

At East Lothian Council we are required by law to protect the public funds we administer. We may share information provided to us with other bodies responsible for auditing or administering public funds, in order to prevent and detect fraud.

On behalf of the Accounts Commission, Audit Scotland appoints an auditor to audit the accounts of this authority. We are also responsible for carrying out data matching exercises.

Data matching involves comparing computer records held by one body against other computer records held by the same or another body to see how far they match. This is usually personal information. Computerised data matching allows potentially fraudulent claims and payments to be identified, but the inclusion of personal data within a data matching exercise does not mean that any specific individual is under suspicion.

Where a match is found it indicates there may be 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 exercise can also help organisations ensure their records are up to date.

Audit Scotland currently requires East Lothian Council to participate in a data matching exercise to assist in the prevention and detection of fraud. We are required to provide particular sets of data to Audit Scotland for matching for each exercise, and these are set out in Audit Scotland’s instructions for participants. The use of data by Audit Scotland in a data matching exercise is carried out with statutory authority - normally under its powers in Part 2A of the Public Finance and Accountability (Scotland) Act 2000. It does not require the consent of the individuals concerned under the Data Protection Act 2018.

Data matching by Audit Scotland is subject to the the code of data matching practice 2018.

For additional information on Audit Scotland’s legal powers and the reasons why it matches particular information, see Audit Scotland’s privacy notice.

What data is checked and matched

The data required from the council includes information on:

  • staff payroll details including key payroll data and personal identifiers - such as contact details
  • staff pension details
  • housing benefit (viax Department for Work and Pensions)
  • council tax reduction scheme
  • council tax
  • council tenants including contact details
  • right to buy including contact details, application stage and amount of discount awarded
  • housing waiting lists
  • blue badge holders including contact details
  • residents' parking permits including contact details
  • private supported care home residents
  • personal budget - direct payments
  • taxi licence holders including contact details
  • trade creditors
  • covid-19 business rates reliefs
  • covid-19 grant recipients

The details are matched against details obtained from other local and central government bodies, the NHS and a number of private sector bodies. The relevant matches are produced at the beginning of 2021, and inconsistencies are investigated by the council.