08 Jan 2021
Organised crime gangs are exploiting lax property and benefits rules to bank large sums of taxpayers’ money, says the head of Britain’s second biggest police force.
Chief Constable Sir David Thompson, head of West Midlands Police, said criminals were laundering their dirty money into property that they rented out through the unregulated “exempt” housing sector.
The sector houses the most vulnerable such as ex-prisoners, rough sleepers and refugees, for which private landlords can charge higher rents funded by the taxpayer through welfare payments.
He said the lack of regulation or oversight by local councils meant criminal gangs could milk the taxpayer because the system was full of loopholes and “nobody is watching”.
He said the worst landlords were also failing to properly care for their tenants which was bringing chaos to neighbourhoods.
Sir David called for a “serious and urgent review” of the issue by the Government to stop it further spiralling and bringing more misery for tenants and neighbourhoods.
And he expressed frustration that other parts of the country were dumping their own vulnerable and problematic residents on the city, including recent prisoners with no connections to Birmingham.
Some 20,000 people currently live in more than 6,000 properties in Birmingham classed as “exempt”, all of them deemed vulnerable and in need of additional support to live safely.
Some £200 million in benefits payments was paid direct to providers in a year in what critics claim is a “goldmine” for unscrupulous landlords.
By Charles Hymas, The Telegraph, 7 January 2021
Read more at The Telegraph
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