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28 May 2013

Southwark raises target on social housing fraud

As London's largest social landlord, Southwark decided that a strategic approach to tackling fraud was required, setting an ambitious target of recovering 300 properties in 2012/13.

By the end of the financial year, Southwark had exceeded its target, freeing up 322 properties that could then be given to people with a genuine need. Although Southwark's housing stock makes up just one per cent of the total nationally, the 322 properties were the equivalent of 17 per cent of the total recovered across the country the previous year.

Southwark has now set itself an even more challenging target of recovering 500 properties in the current financial year, using new innovation to help prevent and detect fraud in this area.

With a housing waiting list of 20,000, Southwark is determined to free up as many homes as possible for genuine tenants.

The council's approach has been to target tenancy fraud from every possible angle, using the National Fraud Initiative and working with private sector companies such as Call Credit to trawl through vast quantities of data looking for anomalies that might point to a fraud.

Southwark has also worked with the UK Borders Agency and the Met Police to ensure that no stone is left unturned.

In 2012/13 Southwark successly prosecuted ten individuals for housing application fraud. The council will use new powers that will be introduced later this year to prosecute tenants who sub-let their council homes, which is not currently a criminal offence.

Well done, Southwark. Hopefully this is just the start. Social housing fraud is the wickedest type of benefit fraud. It doesn't just affect taxpayers, it denies subsidised housing to people who need it.

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