Ouch, these numbers hurt:
A fifth of all council house tenancies may be fraudulent, according to investigators who have conducted the first large-scale examination of the problem………
Fraud investigators matched 27,000 tenants – the entire tenant roll of two councils and four housing associations – against mortgage and credit databases.
They found \”indications of fraud\” – such as the tenants having mortgages, utility bills or active credit at other addresses – in 5,300 cases…………
HJK, which works for councils and housing associations performed the \”data-matching\” exercise with the 27,000 tenants using legal, publicly-held databases such as credit reference agencies and the Land Registry.
In 2,120 cases, 8 per cent of the total, HJK found \”red\” indicators of fraud, where the registered tenant had a mortgage, bank account, active credit or utility bills at another residential address.
In 3,180 cases, 12 per cent of the total, they found \”amber\” indicators of fraud – active credit, bank accounts, Sky TV or utility bill records held by a person with a different surname at the tenancy address, but no such activity there by the registered tenant.
And the importance of all this?
There are eight million council or housing association homes in England and 1.8 million households on the waiting list.
So, near enough, those people on the waiting list are matched by those in council housing who are already paying market rents to the dodgy characters who are subletting and pocketing the subsidy.
Or, we don\’t actually have a shortage of social housing at all. We\’ve got instead an excess of fraud in the social housing stock we already have.
No need at all to build more: just make sure that those getting the subsidy are those who are supposed to get the subsidy.
I will, of course, be fascinated to hear what the professional homeless crowd have to say about this.
This won\’t be an accurate number of course because London rents are higher than elsewhere but just to give an indication of the scale of the problem.
Last week, Shelina Akhtar, a councillor in the London borough of Tower Hamlets, admitted subletting her housing association property as she was convicted of £1100 in housing benefit fraud.
She paid a subsidised \”social rent\” of £400 a month, but lived in private accommodation elsewhere and charged her tenant £1000 a month.
£600 a month on 1.6 million properties. £1 billion a month, £12 billion a year. Yes, even in today\’s inflationary times that\’s real money.