Every two years, East Thames takes part in the National Fraud Initiative. This means that, like other housing associations, we provide information on East Thames residents, staff and suppliers to the Audit Commission so they can compare it to information held by local authorities, the government and the NHS. This is to help detect and prevent fraud against organisations like East Thames that use public money.
In the past, the data matching exercises have identified East Thames properties that were being unlawfully occupied and have now been recovered. This is good news as those properties can then be given to residents who are entitled to social housing.
For the 2014-15 data matching exercise, we will be providing the Audit Commission with the following details on all of our residents:
- Full name
- Date of birth
- Tenancy start and end date
- Tenant reference number
- Housing benefit reference number
- Number of people living permanently at your address
- If ‘right to buy’ is in progress (and completion date where relevant)
- Amount of right to buy discount, if any
We provide the Audit Commission with information as set out in the Audit Commission's guidance, which you can read here.
The Audit Commission is responsible for carrying out checks to make sure public funds are not being used fraudulently. They will only use the information we provide to carry out computer checks looking for discrepancies. If they find any, an investigation will be carried out before any further action is taken.
The Audit Commission has the power to carry out these checks under the Audit Commission Act 1998, so they do not need to seek permission from individuals. The checks that the Audit Commission carries out as part of this initiative are subject to a Code of Practice.
Any personal information you give us is held securely in accordance with the Data Protection Act, 1998. Information that was collected for one purpose may be used for other business purposes and we may also share information where appropriate with our partner organisations or external organisations, unless there are any legal restrictions preventing this.
East Thames is under a duty to protect the public funds it administers and to this end may use the information you have provided us with for the prevention and detection of fraud. We may share this information with other bodies responsible for auditing or administering public funds for these purposes.
If you have any questions or concerns please contact the East Thames customer contact centre on 0300 303 7333.
Frequently asked questions
Q. Why are you providing my details? Can I opt out?
A. East Thames takes part in the National Fraud Initiative because we have a duty to protect the public money that we use and we want to protect taxpayers against fraud.
All East Thames residents, suppliers and staff are included so it is not possible to opt out. The Audit Commission does not need each person’s permission to carry out these checks. They have legal powers to do so under Part 2A of the Audit Commission Act 1998.
Q. How do I know the information is secure?
A. The information is not stored on discs, memory sticks or laptops, so the data cannot be lost. It is transferred directly from East Thames to the Audit Commission’s secure website. This site uses an ‘encrypted connection’. This is the highest level of security – the same sort used by banks for online banking and payments. The technology used on this site has passed several security reviews. All data provided to the Audit Commission is held securely and destroyed at the end of the exercise.
Q. How will I know if I have been identified for investigation?
A. It is highly unlikely that you will be identified by the Audit Commission’s checks. The checks are designed to identify only people who have committed fraud.
Any discrepancies will be fully investigated before any action is taken. We would get in touch with you if there are any issues that we need you to explain.
Q. Does this activity conflict with my rights under the Data Protection Act?
A. No. East Thames and the Audit Commission operate within the requirements of the Data Protection Act.
Q. Which part of the Data Protection Act says you don’t need my consent?
A. Section 29 of the Data Protection Act 1998. Sub-section (1)(a) provides an exemption for personal data processed for the purpose of the prevention and detection of crime.
Q. Will the check include my family members or others that live with me?
A. We will give the Audit Commission the name, date of birth and other information of the lead tenant and joint tenant where applicable. These are the tenants named in the tenancy agreement. In addition to this we are asked to provide only the number of other people living at the property and will not provide any other details about them.
Q. How do I know that the information you give is correct?
A. The information that we supply is extracted directly from our computer database systems. It is the information you gave us when you signed your tenancy agreement. If your circumstances have changed, and you think we may have out of date information, please contact our customer contact centre on 0300 300 7333 with your new details.