Lost homes, lost hope
A report into social housing fraud in England
The Tenancy Fraud Forum (TFF), in partnership with the Fraud Advisory Panel, have published new research, Lost homes, lost hope: social housing fraud in England – recovering social homes for those in need. It examines the problem of social housing fraud, often called tenancy fraud, which is the unlawful occupation of social housing property.
The report attempts to address the lack of official data, with a snapshot of social housing fraud as it is today in England as a whole and in each of the nine regions based on calculations drawn from previous analysis of tenancy fraud detections. It also aims to address the financial cost to the public purse of social housing fraud at a time when 95,000 families are currently in temporary accommodation and more than 1.2 million families are on the housing waiting list in England.
Alan Bryce, Tenancy Fraud Forum Non-Executive Committee Member and Acting Head of the Fraud Advisory Panel, who authored the report, said:
“Our research across England paints a depressing picture of public waste, missed opportunities, with both a lack of data and accountability, but this is not the worst of it. Evidence of a weakening commitment and limited efforts to adopt good practice in managing tenancy fraud risk by many local authorities and housing associations has resulted in a significant ‘detection deficit’.
Social housing is for those in genuine need, not for fraudsters to exploit for their own personal gain. It is time government, the Regulator of Social Housing and housing providers, to show leadership and take long overdue action.
If good practice had been widely adopted since 2015, levels of detected tenancy fraud might have doubled, but instead our research demonstrates they have halved, leading to a significant cost to the public purse as nearly 150,000 social homes are exploited and misused for criminal gain. Our research makes grim reading for social housing providers, central government and the Regulator of Social Housing, as well as the tens of thousands of homeless families in temporary accommodation, due in no small part to the continued failure to tackle the problem.”
Katrina Robinson MBE, Chair of the Tenancy Fraud Forum, said:
“While this report cannot begin to fill the data chasm between social housing stakeholders and a calibrated fraud response, we hope our research will start to build a bridge to reignite the social housing fraud debate and directly help to tackle the housing difficulties faced by thousands of people. Without the support of central government and the regulator, the problem will only get worse, so it’s up to us to do everything we can to raise awareness of the issue and what can be done to tackle it.”