Council fraud team saves more than £700k

A table will be set up at the offices of Crawley Borough Council. Picture: Jon Rigby SUS-150203-132356001
A table will be set up at the offices of Crawley Borough Council. Picture: Jon Rigby SUS-150203-132356001
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Hundreds of thousands of pounds have been saved and important council properties secured for those who need them.

Targeted efforts by Crawley Borough Council’s Corporate Fraud and Inspections Team have saved a large amount of money and returned homes to the council’s stock, the council says.

In the past financial year 17 council properties were returned to council stock from tenants who were no longer using the property, saving more than £300,000.

Twenty-three ineligible housing applications were also turned down, saving £414,000.

These savings are based on a figure of £18,000 for a property retrieved or an allocation stopped, the amount it costs the council to house people in a bed and breakfast and/or temporary accommodation instead of a council home.

A spokesman for the council said: “Tenancy fraud is not just a breach of the tenancy agreement, it’s a serious crime too and the team works hard to investigate any potential fraud against the council.”

Councillor Peter Lamb, leader of Crawley Borough Council, said: “The council has stretched resources and our Fraud and Inspections Team works hard to make sure that only those eligible for council housing receive the help they need.

“Cracking down on fraudulent or ineligible applications for council housing or discounts helps ensure that those most in need benefit from the council’s help.”

After investigations undertaken by council officers, 62 single person Council Tax discounts were removed from residents, generating an income of £40,000, the council says.

The team also established that 126 properties which were registered as long term empty were discovered to be occupied, resulting in approximately £1.1 million in extra funds over a six-year period from the Government’s New Homes Bonus Scheme.

The council spokesman added: “If you suspect someone is a housing cheat, let us know by contacting the council’s Fraud and Inspections Team. Call them 24 hours a day on 0800 634 0180, email investigations@crawley.gov.uk or visit www.crawley.gov.uk/fraud and fill in the e-form.”

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