Branch Secretary : info@housingworkers.org.uk
  

How can workers report fraud?

Feel vulnerable

 

 

When the Social Housing Action Campaign recently started to gather info for a campaign against extortionate service charges, they encountered incompetence, but the scale of those errors also fuelled the suspicion of fraud. 

 

 

Many of our members who work in this field may also come across suspicious practices in their daily work. So what to do if you suspect fraud? You can report the suspected fraud to the housing association board who should take it seriously and investigate it. However, workers often feel too vulnerable to report suspected fraud to an organisation for fear of victimisation.

 

 

It is also possible to report fraud to the authorities without revealing your identity. The authorities investigate cases where they feel there is sufficient cause. Workers do not need to be able to absolutely prove fraud, they just need reasonable grounds to suspect it. However, any evidence you may have such as bills, invoices and hard copies are a great help.


 

The report should be made to Action Fraud, the “national reporting centre for fraud and cybercrime in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.” (See Reporting a Suspected Fraud.)

 

Potential fraud


 

Examples of potential fraud indicators would include excessive charges for repairs, unnecessary repairs, the absence of a clear procedure for tendering work out to contractors, a culture of secrecy and bullying. None of these proves fraud but it is an indicator that it might exist.

 

 

Action Fraud offers a 24-hour online reporting service. As well as enabling victims to report a fraud, it signposts to other sources of help and support – see here.  There is a telephone advice line which will put you through to specialists on 0300 123 2040.
 

 

Using Action Fraud could lead to an issue being investigated by the police. The authorities have the powers and technology to investigate properly and uncover any wrongdoing. However before acting you should also discuss the matter with Unite so we can ensure your protection.

 

Workers who whistleblowing are arguably less vulnerable than tenants and residents as workers can rely on legislation which should afford them protection when disclosing information which may indicate fraud or wrongdoing. In addition to the advice from Unite you should consult the government website and the Information Commissioner's Office for further information.

 

Nick Auvache, branch organiser.

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