On Wednesday 13th May 2015, the Evening Standard reported on page 26, that an East London Borough had been forced to undertake an investigation of it Arm’s Length Management Organisation, which overseas maintenance and assignment of social housing to tenants, over allegations of fraudulent activity being carried out by a number of its employees.
Claims had been made that ‘senior staff had acted dishonestly and harmed resident’s through an unethical culture for more than four years’. Details emerged after a ‘whistle blower contacted the Borough mayor’.
It was alleged that three employees and a relative abused tax payers funds in a Department of the ALMO. The whistle blower further alleged that two of those involved in the fraud where ‘romantically linked’ and made decisions to ‘benefit themselves and their friends and family’, thereby compromising their accountability and ‘impartially to members of the public’. One of the workers was alleged to have’ employed their sister as a temporary contractor who earned up to £1000 per week, and was a decision approved by their manager’.
Whilst the Council in question is currently investigating the claims, it is worth noting that the allegations have not yet been proven. This being said, the ramifications and negative press generated by the article will clearly reinforce the public’s mistrust of those in central and local government and highlight an important concern surrounding the misuse of public funds by elected officials. If the allegations are substantiated then this will rightly a cause public outpouring of criticism in a Borough which has a significant number of social housing stock with disrepair that is in need of urgent repair and regeneration.
Unsurprisingly, this is not a first instance of such allegations having been made against Council staff and it does little to allay the concerns of the tax payer and the wider public over efficient use of the public purse. Furthermore, this also reduces available resources for the provision and maintenance of social housing considering that there are a number of issues surrounding social housing that need to be urgently addressed.