East Dunbartonshire leading the way in tackling housing tenancy fraud
East Dunbartonshire Council is the only local authority in Scotland to have reported instances of housing tenancy fraud to the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal and to have criminal proceedings instigated as a result of their investigations.
The success of the council’s corporate debt team in tackling fraud was reported to its policy and resources committee last week.
Council Leader Rhondda Geekie, convener of policy and resources committee, welcomed the report, and said: “In these times of such financial constraint no fraud is acceptable. Our fraud action plan set out how we will investigate the potential for fraudulent claims such as Council Tax reduction or housing tenancy to ensure that the right people are in receipt of the right benefits and housing provision, for the right reasons.”
The Audit Commission has identified housing tenancy fraud, the use of social housing by someone not entitled to occupy that home, as one of the most significant areas of fraud committed against local authorities. Types of fraud in this category can include unlawful subletting, using false information in a housing application and wrongful tenancy assignment or succession.
Councillor Geekie added: “We offer advice on the completion of application forms for housing or for benefits to ensure that applicants are aware of the information they need to provide so that we can fairly assess if they are eligible. Whilst some instances of incorrect housing allocation or benefit payment may result from legitimate errors it is really important that if fraud is being knowingly committed that we deal with it.”