FENLAND: Council claims fresh success in battle against benefits cheats
FENLAND District Council and the Department for Works and Pensions (DWP) have again successfully teamed up to prosecute people who continue to claim benefits when they start work. Lindsey Scott or Riverside Close, March is the latest person to be caught o
FENLAND District Council and the Department for Works and Pensions (DWP) have again successfully teamed up to prosecute people who continue to claim benefits when they start work.
Lindsey Scott or Riverside Close, March is the latest person to be caught out by the close data matching work between the council and the DWP. She pleaded guilty at Wisbech Magistrates Court to three counts of failing to promptly notify both the DWP and the council of a change in circumstances that she knew she needed to report after she started work with Tesco.
Ms Scott was given a 12 month Conditional Discharge and ordered to pay £75 towards prosecution costs. She failed to alert both authorities and continued claiming Income Support, Carers Allowance, Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit. She was overpaid benefits totalling £2098.44, which will have to be repaid.
The matter was referred to council investigators after a data-matching exercise identified a discrepancy with her benefits.
This is the latest in a number of joint benefit fraud investigations between the council and the DWP that are being brought before the courts following a joint investigation.
Magistrates also gave Clinton Cooke of Frinton Way, Wisbech , a 12 month conditional discharge after he pleaded guilty to a charge of knowingly failing to declare a change in his circumstances when he started full time work in November 2006.
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Council investigators looked into Mr Cooke's claim for Council Tax Benefit following a data matching exercise with the DWP, which revealed that Mr Cooke was no longer in receipt of Jobseekers Allowance and had started full time work. He had failed to report this change to the Council and so continued to receive Council Tax Benefit until March 2007. The overpayment totalled £534.87 and it has since been repaid.
The Council has urged claimants of Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit to report relevant changes in their circumstances without delay.
Cllr Ken Mayor, Portfolio Holder responsible for enforcement, said: "Defrauding the Council and the DWP is a serious matter and we will look to prosecute people in the most serious cases. There is no hiding place.
"It is not a victimless crime, it is taxpayers' money that is being stolen. Data matching plays a key role in detecting fraud and we continue to get results from accessing the data not just from the DWP, but also other public bodies such as Her Majesty's Revenue & Customs."
The Council operates a fraud hotline and the public are encouraged to report cases of suspected benefit fraud on 01354 622583.