It may be a time of seasonal good will and Christmas cheer, but government departments have increasingly got to balance the books.
As austerity measures cut deep across all departments, the need for tight housekeeping has forced the Northern Ireland Housing Executive to tighten its belt.
A Housing Executive tenant (in South Belfast) has been successfully prosecuted after subletting his Housing Executive property as part of a benefits scam, receiving a three month suspended jail term. The NIHE actively carries out checks to ensure genuine tenants live in its properties. These checks are ongoing and can happen at any time during the person’s tenancy, without any warning.
And the NIHE has successfully recovered 192 properties across Northern Ireland this year which were not being lived in by the tenants allocated the properties. Three of these were in the Downpatrick area. Those homes have now been re-allocated to tenants in real need and who have been on the social housing waiting list.
Loma Wilson, NIHE Area Manager, explained: “We need the support of local residents. While some homes may appear unoccupied, for example the tenant may be in hospital, there are properties which are not being used or lived in. With over 21,000 on the social housing waiting list in urgent need of accommodation, it is very important we maximise the use of all our housing stock.”
She continued: “It is in everybody’s interest to stop this happening. This could be stopping you or someone you know from getting a home. It could also be evidence that benefit fraud is being committed.
“If you suspect someone is a Housing Cheat, let us know, either online at:
or by telephoning 03448 920 900. It could make a real difference! Anything you tell us will be held in the strictest confidence. You do not need to leave your name or details. “We will investigate your concerns and the necessary action will be taken. Anyone caught committing fraud is likely to lose their tenancy and could also, in some cases, be disqualified from applying for social housing in the future. They could also be fined and possibly sent to prison. The Housing Executive will then also be able to make the property available to a family who need it most.”]]>