No escape from SAC rent debts

South Ayrshire Council headquarters
South Ayrshire Council headquarters

Local Democracy Reporting Service

South Ayrshire Council has dealt with 41 reports of  residents stacking up rent debt between October 2018 and March this year.

A council paper said a team “locate and trace” people who flee their homes with “outstanding rent arrears”. They are currently handling 21 cases.

The crackdowns were carried out by the council’s corporate fraud team over the past six months. A variety of frauds would have cost the public purse £42,000 if they had remained undetected. The team received 303 referrals over the period.

The work was revealed at the council’s Audit & Governance Panel last week.

A number of investigations into council employees have been concluded over recent months.

A case was reported to the police but officers decided not to prosecute.

One worker resigned, two were disciplined and another left on medical grounds. A fifth staff member awaits a disciplinary.

Councillor Hugh Hunter said: “The employee actions worry me because the actions of a few people can stain the reputation of many.”

Senior investigations officer Douglas Urquhart said ways used to find those who owe the council money include social media and through family members.

The council has also confronted premises owners who should not be bagging Non Domestic Rates empty property relief.

Figures show £17,356 cash from the public purse has been saved as a result.

Officials have also been calling at houses to check community care grants from the Social Welfare Fund are genuine resulting in £5,879 savings.

A council paper presented to councillor at the meeting said: “Recovery of the amounts due is in progress.”