£9.5m to tackle 'tenancy cheats'

Council efforts to crack down on social housing fraud are to be backed by a £9.5 million Government fund, the housing minister has announced.

Mark Prisk said the money, divided between 62 councils, would bolster a range of activities operated by different authorities.

These include specialist investigation teams and advanced data matching tools, he said.

Mr Prisk said: "Tenancy cheats and fraudsters deny social homes to people in genuine need of this valuable resource, while costing the taxpayer hundreds of millions of pounds.

"That's why we're cracking down on this criminal behaviour with a £9.5 million fund to back locally led efforts to tackle the tenancy cheats and giving greater powers to the police and councils so perpetrators face the full force of the law."

The most successful councils reclaim 100 homes each year from fraudulent tenants who live elsewhere and rent out their social home.

Recently, the Government backed a Private Member's Bill by Watford Conservative MP Richard Harrington which makes sub-letting a criminal offence.

Due to come into force this summer, the Prevention of Social Housing Fraud Act will mean perpetrators could face a fine and a custodial sentence of up to two years, while councils will be able to recover the proceeds of sub-letting social homes.

Previously, fraudsters faced little more than losing their tenancy.

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