Three in court for £13,000 benefit fraud, says SLDC

The Westmorland Gazette: Three in court for £13,000 'dishonest' benefit claims, says SLDC Three in court for £13,000 'dishonest' benefit claims, says SLDC

THREE people who claimed a total of £13,000 in benefits have been prosecuted by South Lakeland District Council.

The cases involved a 24-year-old woman from Burneside, a 32-year-old man from Grange and a 56-year-old man from Kendal, said the authority in a statement.

Senior solicitors at SLDC have now warned the public it takes benefit fraud ‘extremely seriously’ and will take a ‘tough stance’.

Nicola Howes, of Hall Park, Burneside, was handed a community order and placed under curfew after magistrates heard she dishonestly claimed more than £5,000 in housing and council tax benefits, said the council.

She pleaded guilty to failing to disclose a change of circumstances by not informing the council she had taken a job and her partner was earning more after increasing his hours at work, it said.

The council said dishonestly failing to disclose a change of circumstances affecting benefit claims is an offence contrary to section 111(1A) of the Social Security Administration Act 1992.

Howes was also ordered to pay a £60 victim surcharge and all of SLDC’s court costs of £315, said the authority.

Magistrates also ordered Gary Cockburn, 32, formerly of Main Street, Grange, to complete 120 hours of unpaid community work over 12 months after he pleaded guilty to knowingly failing to declare a change in circumstances contrary to section 112 of the Social Security Administration Act.

Cockburn, now of Central Drive, Preston, fraudulently claimed £4866.39 in housing and council tax benefits, said the council. He was ordered to pay a £60 victim surcharge and a £200 contribution to SLDC’s court costs, it said.

At South Lakeland Magistrates on May 1, the council said William Liptrot, 56, pleaded guilty to fraudulently claiming £3344.61 in council tax and housing benefits after knowingly failing to declare a change in circumstances.

Liptrot, of Hill Close, Kendal, was sentenced to 50 hours of unpaid work over six months and was ordered to pay all SLDC’s court costs of £372 plus a victim surcharge of £60, said the authority.

In a statement, Nicola Hartley, senior solicitor at SLDC said: “The council will always take benefit fraud incredibly seriously.

“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.”

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