Umbrella companies and others looking for contracts in public sector organisations may endorse a recent call from the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC) for the Government to “get a grip” on public sector and procurement fraud. Figures recently released by Cabinet Office Minister Francis Maude reveal that £21 billion is lost annually through fraud, with inadequate procurement practises accounting for $2.4 billion of the total.

The REC’s Head of Policy, Gillian Econopouly, decried the figures as “shocking,” adding that £21 billion was a “huge sum” to be lost to fraud. She noted that the $2.4 billion lost on bad procurement practises was more than the total amount of money Government spends on the UK’s Accident and Emergency services.

It was, she added, crucial for the Government to deal with the problem urgently to prevent public funds – which are already under considerable strain – from being needlessly and uselessly squandered. Ms Econopopuly went on: “We need a fully competitive, transparent system that demands greater accountability in the way services are delivered.”

Applauding the recent moves by Government to open up the procurement process to smaller firms, enabling them to participate more fairly, she maintained that the figures show that more must be done to improve transparency. Many PAYE umbrella contractors would agree that the contract finder’s website is a beginning, not an end.

The expert declared that the Government’s first priority when making efficiency savings should be tackling fraud, which robs crucial public services of the funds needed to supply doctors, nurses and social workers.