Leading up to the election, candidates from all parties were asked how they would deal with the housing crisis that continues to affect the country. Pledges from parties included: building new homes (both private and public), help for first-time buyers, reforms on social housing and housing benefit policies, caps on private rent increases and much more.
The challenge with any of the parties’ pledges is whether or not they will take time to deliver on those promises and take the time to have a positive effect for those in need. With over 1.8 million individuals and families on the housing waiting lists, local councils and housing associations cannot afford to wait for these changes to be implemented and know they need to do something now to ensure that they are providing housing for those most in need.
The number of social houses available is decreasing year on year and with steadily increasing waiting lists, the demand for social houses outweighs the number that are available. This presents a significant problem for councils and housing associations. From 2004 to 2014, the number of available homes through local authorities decreased by 1.1m, in total only 1.7m local authority homes are available in 2014*.
Couple this with the challenge of protecting their social housing stock against fraud and misuse, it creates a bigger problem with less homes available to eligible individuals and families who really are in need of them.
Despite the challenges they face, there are ways for local authorities and housing associations to support their growing list of families and individuals waiting for social housing.
1. Regularly review waiting lists to ensure individuals and families are still eligible
To ensure only those eligible families are considered for social housing, local authorities and housing associations can perform regular reviews of their waiting list to identify those applications that wouldn’t be eligible or are fraudulently applying. This would help them to reduce their waiting list and get to those in need faster.
2. Regularly review existing tenancies for signs of potential fraud
Local authorities’ lose valuable stock and money from the public purse on every property being occupied by someone taking advantage of and misusing a social property. By identifying and tackling fraudulent tenants, local authorities and housing associations can reclaim properties and move deserving families and individuals out of temporary accommodation and into a home they are entitled to. Circle Housing Circle 33 was able to reclaim 50 properties after working with us on a social housing tenancy verification check. Harrow Council saved the public purse over £780,000 on their social housing tenancy verification check with Experian.
To better understand the fraud risk in your housing stock as well as the benefits to your citizens and potential savings to the public purse, request a free Experian housing risk summary report. The summary includes a breakdown of your properties by their current risk level of being fraudulently occupied, as well as a detailed breakdown outlining in more detail how many properties fall into specific referral categories.
To request your free summary or to find out more information about Experian’s Social Housing Tenancy Verification service, contact one of our Identity & Fraud experts on 08444 815 884. Alternatively, fill in your details here and one of our experts will get in touch with you.
*Dwelling Stock Estimates: 2014, England – Department for Communities and Local Government – https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/423249/Dwelling_Stock_Estimates_2014_England.pdf The Prevention of Social Housing Fraud Act 2013 – House of Commons Social Policy briefing paper – April 2014 – http://www.parliament.uk/briefing-papers/sn06378.pdf The Prevention of Social Housing Fraud Act 2013 – Impact Assessment – October 2013 – https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/249632/Prevention_of_Social_Housing_Fraud_Act_2013_-_Impact_Assessment.pdf