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Showing posts with label Cornwall. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Cornwall. Show all posts

14 Feb 2019

More fraud to find, says Cornwall

Cornwall Council's fraud investigation team has helped with cases of benefit swindles worth more than £630,000.

Since April 2018 the fraud investigations team at County Hall has helped provide information to the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) in 198 fraud cases which had an overpayment value of £636,086.

Further investigations saw the DWP raise fines worth more than £30,000 and 23 prosecutions.

The team also investigates council tax support fraud and investigated 32 cases which identified more than £40,000 in overpayments. These have resulted in 10 people being successfully prosecuted and in five cases penalties have been ordered of more than £4,000.

Tenancy fraud is another area of investigation for the team which had 62 referrals since April 2018 with 12 cases where keys were returned, four right-to-buy applications were withdrawn, two false successions were identified and stopped and two withdrawals from the homeless/Home Choice register.

Prosecution action is being instigated after the team found that someone was fraudulently using the bus pass of a dead person.

The team also investigated a case of the deaths of two pension recipients not being reported, resulting in overpayment of £9,856. Action is being taken to recover the debt.

Jason Pengilly, investigations manager at the council, told the audit committee that his team treats every report seriously and will investigate anything which is sent to them.

He was asked whether more could be recovered if there were more resources for the team.

Mr Pengilly told the committee: "The more we look for the more we find."

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31 Jan 2019

Benefit fraud & tenancy fraud in Cornwall

Cornwall Council’s fraud investigation team has helped with cases of benefit swindles worth more than £630,000.

Since April 2018 the fraud investigations team at County Hall has helped provide information to the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) in 198 fraud cases which had an overpayment value of £636,086.

Further investigations saw the DWP raise fines worth more than £30,000 and 23 prosecutions.

The team also investigates council tax support fraud and investigated 32 cases which identified more than £40,000 in overpayments.

These have resulted in 10 people being successfully prosecuted and in five cases penalties have been ordered of more than £4,000.

Tenancy fraud is another area of investigation for the team which had 62 referrals since April 2018 with 12 cases where keys were returned, four right-to-buy applications were withdrawn, two false successions were identified and stopped and two withdrawals from the homeless/Home Choice register.

More

15 Dec 2015

Light sentence for illegal sub-letting

A second successful prosecution has been completed in Cornwall under new Prevention of Social Housing Fraud Act legislation.

Carol Ann Broaders (60) formerly of Newham Road, Truro pleaded guilty at Truro Magistrates Court on Wednesday 9 December 2015 to one count of tenancy fraud after moving out of and then illegally subletting a council house.

In a prosecution led by Cornwall Council on behalf of Cornwall Housing Ltd, Mrs Broaders pleaded guilty to the fact that she moved out of the property and sublet it without the landlord’s (Cornwall Housing Limited) consent in breach of an express term of the tenancy, knowing that such conduct was dishonest and a breach of a term of the tenancy.

Miss Snowdon was given a £300 fine and was ordered to pay Cornwall Council’s full investigation and legal costs of £1,200 and a £30 Victim Surcharge.

Cornwall Council’s Corporate Fraud Team and Cornwall Housing Ltd have been working in partnership since August 2014 to tackle tenancy fraud.

Joyce Duffin, Cornwall Council Cabinet Member for Housing and Environment said: “It costs on average £18,000 a year to house a family in temporary accommodation. There is huge pressure on the supply of social housing making it imperative that the housing we do have available goes to people in genuine need of help. It’s totally wrong for people not to be living in housing intended for them and to be potentially illegally profiting from it at the same time.”

Source

16 Feb 2015

Two properties returned so far in Cornwall keys amnesty

We looked at Cornwall's belated adoption of a keys amnesty here. Cornwall Council estimated that as many as 200 Cornwall Council and Cornwall Housing tenancies could be affected.

Well, now we have an update.


Two homes have so far been returned to Cornwall Housing use as a result of a 'key amnesty' programme run by the council.

With a couple of weeks still to go until the end of the amnesty, which gives people who are illegally subletting or not living in their council homes the opportunity to hand back their keys, the operation's hotline has received 69 calls and two properties have been surrendered by tenants

The two month programme runs until 28 February 2015, and allows people to hand back their keys rather than face possible criminal investigation and potential legal action which could ultimately result in a criminal conviction.

The council said: "Every property being used fraudulently stops another household in housing need from accessing that affordable housing. A new home costs on average well over £150,000 to build and there are almost 28,000 households registered on Cornwall Homechoice seeking an affordable home, making it even more important that those committing tenancy fraud do not get away with depriving other households out of the homes they need."

Illegal subletting happens when a council home is let to a tenant and that tenant then moves out and illegally lets the property to someone else – usually at a higher rent.

Not only is this illegal, it prevents much needed homes from being made available to families in genuine need and in addition costs every household in Cornwall money.

Cornwall Council’s Corporate Fraud Team and Cornwall Housing Ltd have been working in partnership since August 2014 to tackle tenancy fraud and, in what is believed to be the first such prosecution in Cornwall under new Prevention of Social Housing Fraud Act legislation, a former tenant was convicted of tenancy fraud in December for illegally moving out of and then subletting a council house. The former tenant was given a 12 month conditional discharge and was ordered to pay Cornwall Council’s full investigation and legal costs after admitting moving out of the property and subletting it.

Jane Barlow, managing director of Cornwall Housing, said: “This prosecution shows that this type of activity will not be tolerated by Cornwall Housing Ltd. We have been working in partnership with Cornwall Council’s experienced Corporate Fraud Team and two homes have already been surrendered.
We have seen evidence of how introducing a key amnesty has worked well in other parts of the country. By bringing the issue to the public’s attention, other authorities saw an increase in referrals to its tenancy fraud hotline and we are seeing the same results here. We know that the overwhelming majority of residents live in their homes legally and that they share our commitment to tackling tenancy fraud and I would encourage anyone who suspects someone of committing tenancy fraud to get in touch.”

Joyce Duffin, Cornwall Council Cabinet Member for Housing and Environment said: “It costs on average £18,000 a year to house a family in temporary accommodation. There is huge pressure on the supply of social housing making it imperative that the housing we do have available goes to people in genuine need of help. It’s totally wrong for people not to be living in housing intended for them and to be potentially illegally profiting from it at the same time.”

The initiative was launched in the wake of a change in the law and the introduction of the Prevention of Social Housing Fraud Act 2013 in October 2013, which means people illegally subletting their property can now face a prison sentence of up to two years, a criminal record, or a fine of up to £5,000.

Joyce adds: “I would urge anyone either not living in or illegally sub-letting their council home to get in touch right away. Once the amnesty ends anyone found not to be living in their home or illegally subletting will face the full force of the new powers.”

Anyone who is illegally subletting or is not living in their council home should hand back their keys to the Council’s Corporate Fraud Team, local housing officer or housing office.

Source