Council crackdown on false claimants

PUBLISHED: 13:18 17 February 2006 | UPDATED: 21:42 28 May 2010

TWO women have been taken to court by the Council and found guilty of falsely claiming more than £5,000 each in housing benefit and council tax. These prosecutions are the latest in a number of benefit fraud charges the council is bringing before the cou

TWO women have been taken to court by the Council and found guilty of falsely claiming more than £5,000 each in housing benefit and council tax.

These prosecutions are the latest in a number of benefit fraud charges the council is bringing before the courts and underlines its commitment to taking a firm line with those who defraud the system.

Karen Carver, formerly of Windsor Drive, Wisbech, but now living in Dersingham, admitted dishonestly making false statements on her applications for housing benefit and council tax benefit.

In total she received £5,222.33 in benefits to which she was not entitled, between April 6, 2003 and July 26, 2004. She was given a six months and one day jail sentence, suspended for two years by Cambridge Crown Court.

She also received a two-year community rehabilitation order and was ordered to pay £1,200 compensation to the council.

Tina Elener, of Station Road, March, failed to notify the council of changes in her financial circumstances and she subsequently received benefits she was not entitled to.

Elener did not inform the council about a large increase in her earnings which began back in May 2003 and the payment of tax credits which began in March 2005.

In total, she was overpaid £4,351.51 in housing benefit and £939.54 in council tax benefits.

Fenland magistrates gave her a three-year conditional discharge and she was ordered to pay £500 compensation.

In both cases, the council will seek the full amount of the overpayments.

Councillor Kit Owen, portfolio holder responsible for benefits said: "This is just one example of the work of the recovery team which is in place to verify the validity of council tax and housing benefit claims of any individual in Fenland district.

"I can assure you that where a case is reported of a dubious claim, the recovery team does follow it up. This can result in severe action by the courts against those committing fraud by failing to update the information given to justify their claim.

"It shows the importance of promptly reporting changes in circumstances to avoid overpayment and possible further action."

The council operates a fraud hotline and the public are encouraged to report cases of suspected benefit fraud on 01354 622583.

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