A council has handed over £340,000 in fines as part of a crackdown on fraud.

Tower Hamlets Council’s Anti-Fraud Team’s specialist investigators have been targeting housing tenancy fraud, procurement fraud, payroll and pension fraud, other kinds of internal fraud, bribery, corruption or money laundering activity, blue badge fraud and misuse, and staff fraud.

One notable case this year involved an anonymous tip off about a tenant who illegally bought and sub-letted a council property.

Following the tip off, an investigation revealed the tenant fraudulently applied for a council house as he was already a homeowner. The tenant then used the council house for short-term rentals.

He was charged with fraud and ordered to pay a fine of £175,000.

Over the last year, the team have received 275 referrals of alleged housing fraud.

Thirty-three social housing properties have been recovered from tenants that had breached the terms and conditions of their tenancy, and seven right to buy applications have been stopped and one criminal conviction has been made.

Additionally, the council has:

  • Reject 124 Insurance claims totalling a value of £77,730
  • Issued two profit orders totalling £267,207.51
  • Seized 105 Blue Badges
  • Investigate 38 internal referrals of alleged fraud breaches of staff Code of Conduct.

Mayor Lutfur Rahman said: “As a borough with a population growing at a faster rate than the rest of the country, availability of good quality and affordable social housing is a major concern. Housing fraud is not a victimless crime, especially when we have over 20,000 people on our housing list.”

Cllr Saied Ahmed, Cabinet Member for Cost of Living and Resources, added:  “Stamping out fraud is everyone’s responsibility and is something we take very seriously.  Our fraud team has a proven track record of working with local and national agencies to protect the public purse and bring about prosecutions. Residents can contact us confidentially to tell us about properties that they think might be illegally occupied and we’ll investigate to ensure they are allocated to the people who need them most.”