Tackling housing fraud across Dudley borough
A Dudley Council team dedicated to putting a stop to housing fraud in Dudley borough made savings of more than £500,000 in one year alone.
The council is highlighting the work of its housing fraud team as part of this year’s international fraud awareness week.
In the last financial year (April 2019 to March 2020) the team investigated 542 cases of housing fraud
As a result, the team was able to prevent 36 fraudulent applications from being registered on the council’s waiting list for rehousing and were able to recover possession of 24 properties which had been obtained or were being used fraudulently achieving a notional saving of £548,640.
Councillor Laura Taylor, cabinet member for housing and community services, said:
Those who commit housing fraud deprive others who are in need of housing and cost the UK an estimated £1.76 billion every year. This is a staggering statistic, but I’m pleased we’re taking action in our borough and that the 24 recovered properties are now available to those who are eligible and in genuine need of housing.
With Dudley residents having spent far more time at home this year than usual, it is possible they may have noticed things they would ordinarily not have done. They may not have seen another resident for a while or they may have noticed somebody they do not recognise living at a property.
We’re once again asking residents to be our eyes and ears and help identify potential offenders who they suspect may have applied for social housing by giving false information; abandoning or not using their property as their main and principle home, subletting a social housing property without permission or fraudulently attempting to purchase a property through the right to buy scheme.
At the end of last year, a council tenant was prosecuted following an investigation which identified they had provided false information on their housing application.
The tenant received a conviction, was sentenced to six months in custody, suspended for 18 months, together with an unpaid work requirement of 100 hours and told to repay costs of £2,000. The tenant’s Right to Buy application was also cancelled, of which they were due to receive a discount of £56,000 on the purchase of their council property.
If anyone suspects fraud is taking place, they can report it to housing services by calling Dudley Council Plus on 0300 555 2345. Alternatively, they can use the council's fraud hotline messaging service on 01384 814242 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
People don’t have to give their name or address when reporting suspected fraud and can be assured their contact details provided will be held safely and treated in strict confidence.