London , 6th February 2012 — Fraudsters who obtain social housing from many different local authorities and housing associations now face detection under a new UK-wide data sharing initiative launched today by Experian Public Sector.
Experian Public Sector already works with social housing providers to help prevent social housing tenancy fraud. To date, it has worked with over 30 separate providers and has detected potential fraud in six per cent of tenancies. Extrapolated up across the UK, this is equal to one in 16 social homes at a cost to tax payers of over £2 billion.
Until now there has been no effective data sharing between providers of social housing which means fraudsters have been able to obtain multiple tenancies in many different locations without detection. Experian’s service will cross match the tenancy, waiting and temporary accommodation lists of housing providers to look for evidence of the same tenant or co-occupant being resident in another provider’s housing. Under the new initiative, Experian will issue alerts that will help providers expedite their investigations and prioritise high risk fraud cases.
The London Borough of Hammersmith & Fulham has endorsed Experian’s latest fraud prevention initiative.
Councillor Johnson, Hammersmith & Fulham, states: “We will be supporting this important initiative. Analysis of our own tenancy lists has detected a significant level of fraud, with unlawful subletting evident in as many as one in twenty homes. But this is only part of the picture and we believe much more can be achieved nationally through a joint approach with other UK social housing providers. Serious fraudsters will be working across different providers in many parts of the country, and not just in London. A UK-wide data matching initiative to identify fraudsters, using information pooled across all social housing providers, remains the only logical and practical way to tackle the issue.”
Nick Mothershaw, Director of Identity and Fraud at Experian UK and Ireland, comments: “Too many fraudsters have been able to play the system by applying for and obtaining many social homes from different providers. The only effective way to combat social housing tenancy fraud in the UK is through a collective data sharing and matching scheme that draws on the tenancy, waiting and temporary accommodation list records of all social home providers. Our experience of how fraudsters operate suggests multiple tenancy fraud is more widespread than previously thought and until we have conducted proper analysis across all providers, the full scale of it will remain unknown and continue unchecked.”
Social housing tenancy fraud is defined as the use of social housing by someone not entitled to occupy that home. It includes unauthorised sub-letting of all or part of a property, submitting false information in a housing application to get a tenancy, misrepresentation of circumstances or identity, and wrongful succession when the property is no longer occupied by the original tenant - including so-called ‘key selling’ - and non-occupation by the tenant as their principal home. It is currently estimated that social housing tenancy fraud is prevalent in 160,000 social homes in Britain.
Experian Public Relations
Notes to Editors:
Social Housing Tenancy fraud
Experian has worked with over 30 social housing providers to help prevent social housing tenancy fraud. Experian’s 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. Analysis to date has detected potential fraud in over six per cent of tenancies, if extrapolated upwards this amounts to 160,000 social homes, or one in sixteen properties. However, in some areas the level of detected fraud is significantly higher, particularly in premium locations such as London, where some local authorities are suffering rates as high as nine or ten per cent.
Experian’s analysis takes into account a range of fraud indicators in order to identify cases of high risk potential fraud which can then be investigated quickly by social housing providers. High risk cases are identified using the following criteria:
• Tenant not found at tenancy address and found at alternative address
• Tenant found at tenancy address but also found at alternative address
• Tenant matched to mortality
• Tenancy address matched to Mover Alerts
A consultation is underway with the DCLG with a range of proposals including measures to make subletting social homes a criminal offence with offenders facing up to two years' jail and fines of up to £50,000. Ministers also plan to give local authorities powers to make wealthy tenants pay much closer to the market rate for their rented home – if they refuse, they face eviction. Last year, it was estimated there were up to 6,000 tenants in social housing with annual incomes exceeding £100,000. Around 1.8 million families are currently on waiting lists. In England and Wales, around eight million tenants live in four million council or housing association homes. By freeing up existing social housing, waiting lists could be cut and fewer new social properties would need to be built.
Experian Public Sector
Experian has been working with the public sector for more than 20 years. It has over 140 dedicated specialists supporting a client list of more than 500 organisations across central, local and regional government, education, healthcare, police and law enforcement including the DVLA, HMRC, DWP and Cabinet Office. It specialises in delivering cost-effective savings and critical efficiencies in a wide range of public services. Experian deploys a powerful combination of data, insight and delivery technology to accelerate cost savings, service improvements and operational efficiencies. It also provides strategic insight, research and consultancy to enable more informed policy decisions across the public sector.
Experian is the leading global information services company, providing data and analytical tools to clients in more than 80 countries. The company helps businesses to manage credit risk, prevent fraud, target marketing offers and automate decision making. Experian also helps individuals to check their credit report and credit score, and protect against identity theft.
Experian plc is listed on the London Stock Exchange (EXPN) and is a constituent of the FTSE 100 index. Total revenue for the year ended 31 March 2011 was US$4.2 billion. Experian employs approximately 15,000 people in 41 countries and has its corporate headquarters in Dublin, Ireland, with operational headquarters in Nottingham, UK; California, US; and São Paulo, Brazil.
For more information, visit http://www.experianplc.com.