A battle is being waged against social housing fraud in the North East.

Six councils and nine housing organisations have united to run Regional Tenancy Fraud Awareness Week from October 9-13.

Amy Hodgson, North East Tenancy Fraud Forum Chair, says the average cost to taxpayers per detected tenancy fraud in the UK is £42,000 per property.

During the financial year of 2022-2023, fraud teams saved the region £2.9m.

£5.4m was saved halting 144 false Right to Buy and Acquire sales.

Tenancy fraud occurs when council homes are illicitly occupied, acquired, or wrongfully claimed following a death.

Abandonment is one of the "most common cases of tenancy fraud", says Northumberland County Councillor Colin Horncastle, cabinet member with responsibility for housing.

He said: “If there has been an empty social housing property near you for any length of time, please get in touch with the landlord."

Anyone who suspects tenancy fraud is urged to report it, in confidence, by contacting their council's fraud team or the housing association managing the property.

James Mackie, chair of the North East Tenancy Fraud Forum said: “Tenancy fraud is not a victimless crime and those that commit fraud and lie to gain access to our social housing do so at the expense of those in very real and genuine need."