The team at the East Sussex Counter Fraud Hub recently received an anonymous report about a suspected case of Council Housing Fraud. The report led to the hub saving a massive £25k of much- needed public funding. Wealden District Council’s investigation team set about investigating the claims and found things were far from what they seemed…
A woman had presented herself to the council back in 2010 as being homeless. She was given accommodation, and then two years later a council house. She did not claim any benefits once she moved to the house but was claiming as a single person and was given the single person discount.
She had told the council that she was a former publican and looked after town centre pubs on behalf of the breweries or title owners. She had been married but had split with her husband and had decided to give up working. As she had been moving around between pubs over the previous 20 years she found herself homeless.
The anonymous report, which came through the East Sussex Counter Fraud Hub’s online reporting system, claimed that the woman was living with someone and had been for many years, believed to be her husband who had not actually left her.
The investigators began by doing some background checks and quickly discovered that the woman in question had what appeared to be a mortgage which she had been paying since 1996. The Hub’s officers investigated this further and found that the lady owned a property in her sole name in Crewe, Cheshire. They also discovered that she had been renting the property out and had been receiving an income from it.
The Hub’s investigators called the woman in to the council offices where she admitted that she did own the property and had been receiving an income from its rental. She went on to claim that she had been renting the property to her daughter and that the rental just covered the mortgage. It was later proved that the rent more than covered the mortgage and it was the woman’s step daughter who had been living in the property.
It transpired that the woman’s husband had in fact left her and was living in Derby. Importantly, Wealden District Council was able to get the house back and the overpaid benefits and the lady has moved back up to Crewe. Getting the house back and the overpaid benefits meant a saving to the council of just under £25,000.
If you suspect someone is claiming benefits or social housing that they are not entitled to, please submit a report via our website or call us on 0800 731 7039. Reporting can be done anonymously.