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Revealed - Millions in taxpayer cash saved halting fraudulent tenants

PUBLISHED: 11:30 31 July 2019

Fraudulent Right to Buy applications have been halted by fraud teams at Ipswich and East Suffolk councils

Fraudulent Right to Buy applications have been halted by fraud teams at Ipswich and East Suffolk councils

Archant

Nearly £4.5million in tenancy and Right to Buy fraud has been stopped in Ipswich and East Suffolk in the last year, shock new figures reveal.

In Ipswich, 14 Right to Buy applications were halted, preventing £969,598 being lost, while £1.7m was saved in tenancy fraud after eight council properties were recovered and nine applications prevented from those unsuitably attempting to claim a home.

In East Suffolk, 20 fraudulent Right to Buy applications were stopped saving £1,256,025 while £465,000 in tenancy fraud was identified.

Siobhan Martin, who heads up the joint team across the two authorities, said: "Our work is all about supporting legitimate people who are really deserving - hardworking genuine people.

"It's about identifying, evidencing and prosecuting those people who are abusing the system.

"Paying council tax is challenging for some people so we need to show what worth we are giving back [ by stopping fraudulent activity] and ensuring value for money."

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Among some of the instances behind the fraudulent activity are council house tenants sub-letting their property or money for Right to Buy coming from suspicious sources flagging up potential money laundering concerns.

The team also cracks down in other fraud areas such as disabled facility grants, improper blue badge applications and single person council tax discounts.

The team is part of a national co-ordination network, having seen instances where tenants have been sub-letting their Ipswich council house while living in another part of the country.

Mrs Martin said: "Where we see direct results there is also important information sharing with other organisations in other areas.

"It might be any one piece of information that can be the key."

Often tenancy fraud can be an indicator of other offences such as abuses of other benefits or drug operations, according to Mrs Martin.

In the last 12 months, the team has pursued prosecutions where necessary, and worked with police where other offences have been identified.

To report a case of suspected fraud, call the Ipswich team on 01473 433999 or East Suffolk on 01394 444444.

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