bdht’s anti-fraud team has been working to target housing fraudsters who seek to secure bdht homes that they are not legally entitled to and, over the last year alone, has saved the trust and its customers a massive £140,000 through its efforts.
With housing fraud on the rise, the Worcestershire-based trust set up a dedicated team 18 months ago to investigate suspected fraud under the Prevention of Social Housing Fraud Act 2012. Working with the National Anti-Fraud Network, as well as local residents , the team is able to identify fraudulent activity and, where necessary, reclaim properties which can then be passed onto rightful tenants.
bdht’s Communities First Manager, Annette Trow, explains: “We take housing fraud very seriously at bdht, as it strips away money that is desperately needed to provide homes for those in urgent need of social housing.
“We have seen a particular increase in right-to-buy fraud, where we have received a request to buy a property but we discovered that the named tenant was no longer living at the address and someone else, usually a relative, was trying to purchase the property at a reduced rate.
“The tireless work that our anti-fraud team does to uncover these cases means that a significant amount of money is saved and these properties can be reallocated.”
Fraud is a criminal offence and has severe consequences, potentially carrying a prison sentence of up to 10 years. These particular cases not only consist of right-to-buy fraud, but also abandonment/sublet fraud which all come under the Prevention of Social Housing Fraud Act 2012.
Mark Robertson, Chief Executive at bdht says:
“It is sad that it was necessary for us to develop an anti-fraud team at bdht to combat the issues that we and other housing associations are facing from a relatively small number of residents. However, in response, the team is doing a fantastic job of scrutinising our service provision to ensure only those who are lawfully entitled to properties are allocated them.
To have saved £140,000 in one year alone is astounding and this money can now be put towards our programme of providing new affordable homes in Bromsgrove as part of our attempt of solving the dire housing crisis we face.”