Benefit cheats fined and ordered to repay �17k to Fenland District Council between them

TWO people are facing hefty bills after pleading guilty to falsely claiming council tax benefit and housing benefit.

Between them they will have to repay more than �17,000 to Fenland District Council on top of their fines. Both appeared before Fenland Magistrates’ Court earlier this month.

Maria Harris, aged 38, of Ellingham Avenue, March, also pleaded guilty to two charges of making a false statement or representation to obtain the same benefits.

The council investigated her claim after receiving allegations that she had a partner living with her. It showed that Harris was not entitled to benefits claimed between October 2005 and November 2006 and from August 2007 to October 2008 because she was living together with her partner as husband and wife.

She was overpaid about �15,000 in Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit, all of which she will have to repay. She was also fined �200 and ordered to pay �85 costs with a �15 victim surcharge.

Gary Oldfield, aged 41, of Southwell Close, March, admitted failing to tell the council promptly about a change in his circumstances and making a false statement on his benefit claim.

The council investigated him after being tipped off that he was working part-time for a Chinese take-away and not declaring his earnings. They found that he had been working there since November 2006.

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In total, he received more than �2,000 in housing benefit and council tax benefit to which he was not entitled. He will have to pay it all back.

Magistrates also fined him �50 and ordered him to pay �50 costs plus a �15 victim surcharge.

A spokesman for the council said: “If you receive housing benefit or council tax benefit and have had a change in circumstances, please report it promptly to us. You can pop into one of our Fenland @ your service shops or phone us on 01354 654321.

“Anyone who suspects a case of fraud should report it to us on our special fraud hotline on 01354 622583.”

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