A housing association hit by fraud allegations has agreed to bring in independent auditors to investigate whether private repair companies are plundering taxpayers' money.

The Wimbledon Guardian published a whistleblower's allegations that contractors working for Circle Housing Merton Priory were repeatedly over-charging for repairs.

He also claimed some housing association managers knew this.

Firm investigates whistleblower's over-charging claims

In a statement today, Deborah Upton, executive director of governance at CHMP which manages 9,000 homes across Merton, said: "We take any allegations like this very seriously and as a result we have commissioned an independent firm to look into how we operate our contract."

The whistleblower, a former customer services advisor at the CHMP offices in Morden, also claimed contractors would repeatedly charge for work which had not been done, or regularly turn up to jobs without the right tools.

Repairs of CHMP properties are managed by Keepmoat Property Services, which was awarded a £220m contract in January 2013 to provide repairs for more than 17,000 homes in Merton and Kent.

Following our article this month, Labour councillor Andrew Judge, cabinet member for environmental sustainability and regeneration, called on CHMP to carry out an independent audit.

He said: "Obviously I think it's important at this stage, given the issues over repairs. In my ward on the High Path estate, repairs have been a continuous issue.

"We had reassurances from Circle Housing in the spring that they were going over their contractual agreements with surveyors turning up but not being able to finish work, or saying work has been done when it hasn't been done, and they do need to follow up on their assurances that they are getting on with their improvements.

He added: "I think there is goodwill on the part of Circle managers but goodwill doesn't mend roofs."

The scandal comes after Mitcham and Morden MP Siobhain McDonagh revealed in June she has received 240 complaints about CHMP maintenance in the past year.