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Local Authority COVID-19 Screening Service

Deadline to signup for service is 31st of May.


Following the Government’s announcement of a package of economic relief, local authorities have been tasked with distributing Government funds through the grant applications process. This bespoke action requires all authorities to act quickly to provide the help people need financially during the coronavirus pandemic.

Local authorities have already received a large volume of enquiries and applications for grants, and while the majority will be genuine, there is also huge potential for these grants to be exploited for the purposes of fraud.

Our intelligence has already seen a rise in instances of fraud since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, and this has continued to increase on a regular basis with criminals looking at new and innovative ways to commit fraud.

Cifas is committed to working with local authorities, and helping them in their fight against fraud. Working with our local authority members, we have created a batch search capability that will screen grant applications to pinpoint potential fraud, and are offering this service to all UK local authorities. This page contains information about the service and how it works, and how your Local authority can sign up to take advantage of it.

About the service

Over the last few weeks we have worked with stakeholders in the public sector to create a bespoke service available only for local authorities in the UK. This will enable them to fraud check grant applications against the Cifas National Fraud Database which is the UK’s largest, most up to date and comprehensive set of fraudulent data available. Local authorities have until the 31st of May to sign up and can use the service for 3 months from starting date. The benefits of the service include:

Each local authority will be sent a specially created Associate Member Agreement that will be valid for an initial 3 months and has the ability to be extended for this use case should this pandemic continue.

How does it work?

Each local authority that signs up to the service will be given a unique number and should prepare a batch file of applicants structured in line with our guidance. When creating the file, each applicant will be given a unique reference number and when the batch is ready, it can be sent to Cifas via a secure file exchange. Cifas will then run the data and match it with the National Fraud Database. Where no match is found these will be returned clearly to the local authority so that the funds can be paid to genuine applicants quickly. Where there is data held, then Cifas will return it to the local authority contact with recommendations on each matched applicant explaining what information we hold and what further investigation may be required. Batches can be run at regular intervals (as not all applicants may apply at first) and each batch will be processed and returned with all reasonable endeavours within 48hours. We will only match against the most up to date data that we have on the database and if you require further assistance then you can call a dedicated Cifas staff member who will be able to help.

How much does it cost?

The fee for this service is £1933+VAT, and a £67 insurance premium (Non-VAT). Cifas is a not for profit and this amount just covers the costs incurred by Cifas as a result of undertaking the processing the searches and matches ourselves.

How do I sign up?

In order to take advantage of this service simply contact us at and once you’ve signed the relevant documentation, you can start using the service straight away.  

Important notice: Fair Processing and Data Protection

In order to ensure you can use the service, you will need to provide applicants with a Fair Processing Notice (FPN) explaining how their personal data is processed for purposes such as fraud prevention. The statement you provide should be compatible with the meaning of ‘the personal information collected from you will be used to prevent fraud. This statement could be included in an application form, a webpage that describes the grant facility, as part of a communication that acknowledges receipt of a grant application, or within a communication from a local authority offering a grant. An example of a compatible statement would be quoting the Government’s own guidance that ‘deliberate manipulation and fraud’ will not be accepted and would face potential prosecution and funding claw back.

Local authorities must also be able to confirm to Cifas that they will be able to provide further information about the processing to any individual requesting more details. We have written a comprehensive Fair Processing Notice specifically for Local Authorities using this service, and you can link your application forms or relevant resources and documents to it ensuring that you satisfy the Data Protection Legislation requirements here.