Anti-fraud activity has saved Northumberland taxpayers almost £900,000 in just six months, simply through the scrutiny of Right to Buy applications.
And the figure of £877,720, following the withdrawal of 20 applications out of a total of 66 from April to September 2018, only covers what would have been allowed as a discount to the property purchase price.
In addition to these savings, the 20 properties remain as part of the council’s housing stock and continue to generate rental income.
A corporate fraud update, for the first six months of the 2018-19 financial year which was presented to the council’s audit committee this week, also reported that a further two Homes for Northumberland properties have been recovered due to the tenants being non-resident.
The council’s fraud team also provides the Right to Buy vetting service for Karbon Homes – for a charge – resulting in four out of 14 applications being withdrawn or cancelled during the six-month period, saving the housing association £134,100.
The report to councillors adds: ‘The Right to Buy initiative will remain a high priority and it is envisaged that this will be expanded to look at other areas of housing fraud.
‘To coincide with the Tenancy Fraud Awareness Week, we aim to conduct a full review of our Homefinder waiting list to identify possible fraudulent applications for social housing.’
Another major part of the team’s activity relates to overpayments of council-tax support or fraud relating to single-person discount; around £32,000 of additional revenue for the council was identified between April and September.
In total over the first half of the year, anti-fraud activity resulted in cash savings of £53,312 and non-cash savings of £1.52million.
Ben O'Connell, Local Democracy Reporting Service