Experian has assisted The London Borough of Hammersmith & Fulham in recovering almost GBP3,000-a-day for the public purse with an ongoing and highly successful programme to prevent social housing tenancy fraud in its 12,000 social homes.
The local authority is working with Experian to deploy the latest fraud detection techniques in a programme that has significantly reduced the level of social housing tenancy fraud in Hammersmith & Fulham. Experian's analysis, combined with the in-depth local knowledge and expertise of its fraud investigators, has yielded savings of more than GBP650,000 in the first seven months, with more savings expected to follow.
Councillor Andrew Johnson, Hammersmith & Fulham Cabinet Member for Housing, said: "These stunning results prove our zero tolerance towards fraud is working. Every fraudster profiting from the most vulnerable members of society by unlawfully sub-letting social homes should know they now run a very high risk of being caught.
"Every home that is sub-let is a property taken away from a person or family in need.
"Experian is working with Hammersmith & Fulham to enable the investigation team to review and follow up suspected fraud cases. Within the first seven months, around 300 high-risk properties were investigated resulting in savings of GBP654,000 to the public purse - the equivalent of nearly GBP3,000-a-day. In many cases keys were very quickly surrendered following an e-mail, phone call or visit from the local authority.
"Our data-matching work with Experian, underpinned by our cost-effective internal analysis is expected to save GBP1 million in the first 12 months of the exercise."
At present, current fraud estimates are based on collective samples of individual housing providers and suggest Social Housing Fraud is a significant problem in the UK with evidence of fraud in at least 6 per cent of social homes. But the true figure is almost certainly higher as this estimate does not include fraudsters that have obtained multiple tenancies in more than one local authority or housing association. A true estimate of the scale of the problem will require combined data sharing and matching between all social housing providers. Indeed, the problem of social housing fraud cannot be effectively addressed or solved without effective coordination between providers.
Experian is already working with over 30 social housing providers to help prevent social housing tenancy fraud. Our most recent fraud analysis in January 2012 covers a quarter of a million tenancy records representing a broad spread of urban and rural social housing providers. Work to date has detected potential fraud in over 6 per cent of tenancies nationally, one in sixteen social homes. However, in some areas the level of detected fraud is significantly higher, particularly in premium locations such as London, where some local authorities there are suffering rates as high as nine or ten per cent.