Stoke-on-Trent City Council - tackling tenancy fraud

Background

Stoke-on-Trent City Council covers a population of around a quarter of a million people across the ‘six towns’ of the Potteries region. It owns and manages over 19,000 council residential homes and is widely considered to be the local authority with the most success in tackling tenancy fraud outside of London.

The Council has recovered 201 social homes since it started its tenancy fraud crack-down in 2011. It had an aggressive target of 70 properties being recovered within the 2013/14 financial year but also wished to develop a joint approach to tackling tenancy fraud which involved other social landlords across the Potteries region.

Objective

Stoke wished to engage with a data-partner that could identify additional properties subject to tenancy fraud both within the City Council’s housing stock, and across a further 14,000 social homes owned by four other registered social landlords.

Solution

Five of the participating organisations securely provided Callcredit with tenant records including names and addresses.  This occupant information was then passed through Callcredit’s ThreeSixty Tenant View service. The process compares tenant details with Callcredit’s vast financial and residency consumer databases to identify properties where the tenant:

  • was no longer using their social home as their main place of residence
  • appeared to have passed-away
  • had moved elsewhere and had passed the keys to their property to a different individual.

Callcredit delivered the results back as simple PDF reports, showing the whereabouts of the tenant(s) and the name and date-of-birth of each of the new occupants.

Where the social landlord or City Council wished to investigate cases in more detail, Stoke could access live data from Callcredit’s credit bureau using the powerful yet easy-to-use ThreeSixty Online system. This would show exactly what evidence was placing an individual at a given address (e.g. mobile phone, bank account) and exactly when they appeared to have moved in/out.

Results

Stoke-on-Trent has so far recovered 23 additional properties that were subject to fraud as a direct result of the Callcredit project.  This has immediately allowed for vulnerable families to be housed and for Stoke-on-Trent City Council to reduce the amount being spent to keep families in expensive temporary accommodation (e.g. bed and breakfast).

The Audit Commission estimate the cost of temporary accommodation at £18,000 per household, per annum. Based on these figures, recovering 23 homes from fraudsters would make a direct saving of £414,000. The cost of building 23 new homes is likely to be in excess of £2.3million.

Additional benefits have included:

  • Assurance on the size and nature of tenancy fraud within the City Council’s and RSL’s housing stock
  • Fraudsters that had been evicted from council housing cannot now continue their illicit activities within RSL homes undetected
  • The main social landlords in the Potteries working together to tackle tenancy fraud sends out a strong deterrent to would-be fraudsters
  • The City Council has detected council tax single person discount, housing benefit and council tax support fraud as a by-product of the tenancy fraud review
  • The five organisations are now sharing tenancy fraud intelligence and best-practice more than ever before.

“Stoke-on-Trent City Council has recovered 201 social homes from tenancy fraudsters in the last three years. To allow us to continue our tremendous levels of success a new and innovative approach was required.

“Callcredit’s intelligent data-matching has provided exactly this and has identified further cases of social housing fraud that would not typically be reported to the City Council via ‘traditional’ channels.”
Paul Bicknell, Corporate Fraud Manager, Stoke-on-Trent City Council

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