Thomas Bridge 28 July 2015

Councils face ‘huge’ rise in Right to Buy scams

Right to Buy fraud has more than doubled across London in the past year, with boroughs detecting scams worth almost £26m.

Figures from the London Boroughs’ Fraud Investigators’ Group (LBFIG) reveal the number of fraud cases involving council tenants looking to buy their property at a discount climbed to 300 in 2014/15, with the value of cons rising by 185%.

At least 3% of Right to Buy applications in London are now thought to be fraudulent. The figure will pose a serious concern for the Government as it looks to expand the scheme to 1.3m housing association tenants across the county.

London boroughs in total uncovered £73m of fraud last year, an increase of 46% on the previous 12 months.

While the number of cases dealt with by boroughs fell by 10%, local authorities are said to be facing an ‘emerging’ spate of new scams surrounding claims from people from abroad who are incorrectly claiming benefits. LBFIG said London councils identified 432 cases worth more than £7m relating to people with no recourse to public funds over 2014/15m.

Boroughs in the capital also recovered 1,618 properties from fraudsters in the past year, half the total reclaimed across the county.

Chair of the LBFIG and Southwark Council fraud manager, Kevin Campbell-Scott, said: ‘Councils across the country can learn from our proactive approach to tackling fraud, and protecting the public purse, at a time when council coffers are stretched more than ever before.

‘The sterling work our fraud teams are doing is taking money and council houses back from fraudsters, so that they can benefit those in genuine need. However we can’t be complacent. New risks are emerging all the time and we need to stay one step ahead of those who want to cheat the public purse.’

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