John backs bill to criminalise council housing fraud

John Healey is backing a Bill aimed at cracking down on subletting by council tenants.

As Housing Minister, in 2009, Mr Healey launched the first ever national drive against social housing fraud, by using data matching to give councils and housing associations hot leads to potential fraudsters.

Now he is supporting a Private Members’ Bill, ‘Prevention of Social Housing Fraud’, which aims to make illegal subletting a criminal offence, create effective deterrents and allow for proceeds of subletting to be reimbursed to social landlords, rather than the State.

He said: “We can’t let cheats keep the tenancies of council houses if they don’t need or live in them.

“With so many people needing homes, we need to keep doing all we can to make sure the system is fair.

“Cracking down on sub-letting can free up homes for people on council waiting lists.”

It is estimated that between 50,000 and 160,000 properties may be currently unlawfully occupied, earning tenancy cheats thousands of pounds a year renting their social homes out to private tenants.

The Bill is expected to receive its second reading on 13 July.