Housing tenancy fraud uncovered in Brighton

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Investigations into housing tenancy fraud in Brighton and Hove have led to ten properties being returned to the council so far this year.

These can includes tenants breaking the rules by sub-letting their council house of flat to someone else.

Brighton and Hove City Council’s corporate fraud team has also worked with colleagues in housing to introduce extra checks on the eligibility of right to buy cases, members of the audit and standards committee heard at their latest meeting on Tuesday (January 10).

A report discussed by councillors said: “This has identified and prevented 11 potentially fraudulent ‘right to buy’ cases from proceeding and provides a deterrent for ineligible applicants.

“The council has retained or destroyed 85 Blue Badges, agreed 59 community resolutions, undertaken 27 prosecutions and cancelled five residents parking permits.

“The corporate fraud and audit teams have together worked on a range of cases that have resulted in referrals to relevant authorities, recovery of funds, and disciplinary action against Brighton and Hove staff.

“We have developed and are currently reviewing data matching reports to identify potential cases for misuse of council dwellings and residents parking permits.

“We have submitted our complete set of data to the National Fraud Initiative (NFI). We will work with colleagues across the council to review the outcomes when the data matches are released.”

On the right to buy, Graham Liddell, head of internal audit said: “We look at the eligibility of people and whether they have funds available.

“In some parts of the country, pressure is being put on people by loan sharks.”

Mr Liddell suggested that unscrupulous lenders relied on rising property prices to profit from foreclosures when purchasers defaulted on repayments.

And while the fraud detection work protects council homes, he said: “This is about protecting tenants.

Councillor Ann Norman, who chairs the committee, praised the work of the both the fraud and audit teams.

Earlier, David Croydon, a council leaseholder, urged councillors to look again at the overcharging by a subcontractor which led to a housing maintenance contractor repaying £513,000 to the council.

Mr Croydon said that councillors needed to look at whether the council was receiving value for money.