Prosecution serves as a reminder to benefit claimants
Shropshire Council’s benefits service is reminding housing benefit and council tax support claimants of their statutory duty to promptly notify the council’s benefits service of changes in circumstances that might affect their entitlement to these benefits.
The advice follows a successful joint prosecution on 24 March 2015 where the Department for Work and Pensions and Shropshire Council brought a case under the Social Security Administration Act 1992 against a benefit claimant, Andrew Davies, 54.
Andrew Davies claimed income support, housing benefit and council tax benefit whilst living at Acton Reynald in Shropshire, but failed to disclose the fact that he had savings in excess of the permitted benefit limits.
This meant that between December 2007 and October 2012 he benefited from in the region of £33,750 to which he was not entitled.
Andrew Davies pleaded guilty to the offences, and the Magistrates Court committed him to prison for an overall sentence of six months.
Andrew Davies will also be liable to pay back the monies he was not entitled to.
Investigation officers are reminding benefit claimants that they must declare the correct information at the time of their application, and notify any subsequent changes in circumstances at the time they occur, to avoid breaches of legislation.
Jessica Taylor, Shropshire Council’s benefits service manager, said:
“From this case, a total of over £30,000 had been claimed from the council. The claimant was not entitled to this money and it is simply not acceptable for anyone to do this. It is the responsibility of people claiming housing benefit and council tax support to declare any income or capital to the council, plus any other changes to their circumstances. Where people fail to do this, the council will investigate the matter and will require the money to be repaid. In addition, we will not hesitate to prosecute where this is appropriate.
“I hope this sends a clear message to others that fraudsters will be caught and punished. This is not a victimless crime, as fraudulently-claimed benefits takes money out of the pockets of every hardworking taxpayer, as well as the people who genuinely need support to make ends meet.
“I strongly urge all claimants to provide the benefits service with accurate claim information at all times, and to promptly provide any changes to their circumstances that may affect their entitlement to benefits.”
Shropshire Council encourages people to contact the National Benefit Fraud Hotline on 0800 854 440 if they have any suspicions that offences may be being committed.
General benefits advice can be found on our website shropshire.gov.uk/benefits/contact-the-benefits-service/benefits-advice/
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