Council issues benefits claim warning after three women appear in court
PUBLISHED: 10:45 26 February 2014 | UPDATED: 12:24 26 February 2014
East Cambridgeshire District Council is warning residents to ensure they claim only the benefits they are entitled to after three court cases in recent days.
In the first, Tina Bissett, 47, from Littleport, pleaded guilty to falsely claiming £39,524 in income support and £17,972 in council tax and housing benefits.
The charges were brought by Anglia Revenues Partnership on behalf of the council and the Department of Work and Pensions.
She was handed 12 months in prison for each charge, to run concurrently and be suspended for two years.
In the second, Nina Read, 26, from Ely, pleaded guilty to two charges of failing to notify the district council and the Department of Work and Pensions of a change in her circumstances.
This lead to her claiming a total of £8,301.47 in housing and council benefit and income support which she was not entitled to.
Miss Read was given a 12-month conditional discharge in additional to a £15 victim surcharge and told to pay costs of £550.
And finally, Brenda Maul, 65, from Littleport, pleaded guilty to failing to notify the council of changes in her circumstances which meant she claimed more than £2,000 worth of council tax benefit she wasn’t entitled to between May 2009 and July 2013.
Mrs Maul was fined £766 and told to pay a £15 victim surcharge and costs of £550.
Linda Grinnell, head of finance at East Cambridgeshire District Council, said: “Benefit fraud is not a victimless crime – it is the taxpayer who has to pay for those who try to cheat the system. We hope these judgements act as a real deterrent to anyone who thinks they can get away with claiming money they are not entitled to. We would also remind people to let us know about changes in their circumstances as soon as their situation changes so they don’t get into difficulties.
“There is a team of officers who work to track down anyone who is trying to defraud you and the District Council. Often it is intelligence led investigations which are the most successful and lead to the conviction of people who are breaking the law. I would encourage anyone who has information that someone is claiming benefits illegally to please let us know - you will be helping the Council and your Council Tax bill in the process. ”