A KENDAL man has been given a suspended prison sentence for dishonestly claiming more than £14,000 over two years.

Martin Lord, 46, of Laurel Gardens, failed to give prompt notification to South Lakeland District Council that his income had increased.

Lord claimed housing and council tax benefits but did not tell SLDC he was earning more money while self-employed.

In total, he claimed £14,224.77 which he was not entitled to, council prosecutors said.

He pleaded guilty to a single charge when he appeared before magistrates in Kendal.

Lord was given a 12-week custodial sentence, suspended for two years, ordered to do 240 hours' unpaid work to be completed within a year, fined £300 and told to pay an £80 victim surcharge.

In mitigation, Susie Kavanagh said Lord had been suffering with an alcohol and gambling addiction at the time of the offence.

She said that he pleaded guilty at the first available opportunity and that he was remorseful.

SLDC’s revenues and benefits manager, Alan Raven, said: “People need to be aware that the council will always prosecute where deliberate fraud is uncovered.

“The council has a responsibility to protect public funds and SLDC will continue to take a tough stance on any type of benefit fraud.

“The vast majority of people are law abiding council tax payers and claim benefit they are entitled to correctly.

“It is only fair that we take action when benefit is claimed fraudulently.

“If people are having problems understanding the benefit system, they should talk to the council straight away or speak to one of the advice agencies and get help as quickly as possible.”

People caught cheating the benefits system can be fined up to £5,000 per offence and sentenced to a maximum of six months imprisonment or both in the magistrates' court.

If the case is referred to crown court the maximum penalty is an unlimited fine or up to seven years' imprisonment or both.

South Lakeland District Council said it had a 'zero tolerance' policy against benefit fraud.