Fraud team sees saving of £410,000

Hundreds of thousands of pounds of tax payers’ money is being saved through a council crackdown on fraudulent social housing sales.

In a joint initiative with Homes for Northumberland, Northumberland County Council’s new corporate fraud team is carrying out enhanced checks on Right to Buy applications.

And in its first three months of operating, the unit has saved the local authority more than £400,000.

Right to Buy allows many social housing tenants to purchase their council homes at a discount, based on the length of time tenants have been in the address.

Deputy leader of the county council, Dave Ledger, said: “We have introduced more stringent vetting procedures including completion of an anti-money laundering form, ID verification in person and credit reference agency data checks, as well as visiting and interviewing applicants.

“Since we started carrying out checks in July, a total of 12 applications have been withdrawn in Alnwick, Cramlington, Blyth and Seaton Delaval.

“The total amount of discount that would have been given is a staggering £410,000.

“This, together with the retention of the property and the potential of associated temporary housing costs which could have been required, means significant savings to the council and ultimately benefits everyone living in the county.”