10 Apr 2013

Plymouth gets meaningful social housing fraud funding

This is Plymouth reports on what they call a "large" central government grant for tackling social housing fraud - and report
Central funding of £2,000 will pay for a two-year investigation into those who are scamming the system by renting out their council home.
Happily, however, the grant is £200,000! A full list of councils being provided with funding to combat social housing fraud is available here.

As Local Government Lawyer reminds us:
The government is to provide an additional £9.5m to 62 councils to spend on combating social housing fraud ahead of the implementation of the Social Housing Fraud Act 2013, which will criminalise unauthorised sub-letting, in the summer.

The money will be used to fund specialist investigation teams and new techniques such as advanced data-matching.

The Prevention of Social Housing Fraud Act 2013 will mean those social tenants that sub-let entire properties could face a fine and a custodial sentence of up to two years, while councils will be able to recover the proceeds of sub-letting social homes. Previously, illegal sub-letters were in the main only at risk of losing their tenancies. Renting out a spare room to a lodger will not be an offence under the act.

Housing Minister Mark Prisk said that illegal sub-letting cost taxpayers as up £900m a year, while making thousands of pounds in profits for those who sub-let. The Audit Commission estimates that 50,000 homes in England are unlawfully occupied.

The Minister said: “Tenancy cheats and fraudsters deny social homes to people in genuine need of this valuable resource, while costing the taxpayer hundreds of millions of pounds.

“That’s why we’re cracking down on this criminal behaviour with a £9.5m fund to back locally-led efforts to tackle the tenancy cheats and giving greater powers to the police and councils so perpetrators face the full force of the law.”
There are currently 1.8m households on the waiting list for social housing and another 250,000 social households are officially classed as overcrowded.

That's why social housing fraud is the most wicked type of benefit fraud. It's not just the money. These fraudsters are depriving families of decent homes.

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