Call to expose Derry dole drop cheats

Social housing.
Social housing.

Local people have been urged to turn in suspected Derry ‘dole drop’ cheats as the Housing Executive revealed there were now over 4,000 applicants waiting on housing locally.

The Housing Executive’s new Interim Chief Executive Clark Bailie vowed that they would act on all information received with regards people using social housing as a basis for scamming money.

Mr Bailie was speaking after he presented the Housing Executive’s new Housing Investment Plan for Derry and Strabane over the next four years before the council’s Governance and Strategic Planning Committee on Tuesday evening.

Responding to questions on the issue from Independent Councillor Gary Donnelly, Mr Bailie said it was “not right and not fair” that some people were cheating the systems while others were desperately waiting on accommodation.

“We have recently set up a Tenancy Fraud Unit to make sure a precious resource like social housing tenancy is given to somebody who needs it,” he said.

Mr Bailie added that anyone with suspicions that a property was unoccupied and used as a dole fraud should tell the Executive.

“We will take it seriously and investigate it,” he vowed.

The new, detailed 90-page plan lists the work that is ongoing to address the 4,120 families and single people on the housing waiting list in Derry and Strabane, with more than half of these deemed as being in housing stress.

Mr Bailie said however that one of the main issues was finding available land which owners were willing to sell for housing in the current economic climate in areas such as Derry’s west bank.