FENLANDER: Benefit cheat from Wisbech given suspended jail sentence

EVERY possible help will be given to people entitled to various benefits but those who cheat the system will be vigorously pursued and punished.

That’s the message from Fenland District Council after a woman from Wisbech was given a suspended jail sentence for falsely claiming more than �8,000 in housing and employment benefits.

Councillor Kit Owen, FDC’s portfolio holder responsible for benefits, said: “We want to do all we can for those in real need who are entitled to benefits and we urge them to contact us so that we can help.

“At the same time, we don’t hesitate to go after the cheats who make false claims. Not only are they effectively stealing money from law-abiding taxpayers, they also make life harder for decent, genuine claimants by calling the whole system into question.”

He was speaking after Susan Parrin, now of Hawkins Drive, Wisbech, was given a suspended sentence of six weeks imprisonment by Fenland magistrates. The prosecution followed a joint investigation by Fenland District Council and the Department for Work & Pensions (DWP).

Parrin had previously occupied a flat in Kennedy Court, Wisbech, and had received Housing Benefit to cover her rent payments. She also received Employment and Support Allowance and Jobseeker’s Allowance as a single person.

Council and DWP investigators looked into her claims after it was alleged that she was in fact living with her partner in Stow Road, Wisbech.

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Parrin admitted not having lived at Kennedy Court since 2006 and her partner confirmed that she had moved in with him that year. She also agreed that her daughter and son-in-law had moved into the flat at Kennedy Court with their two children after she had moved out.

By failing to report her changed circumstances, she continued to receive benefit incorrectly. She also admitted making false statements to obtain her benefits.

Between September 2006 and September 2009 she was overpaid Housing Benefit of �5,745.34, Employment & Support Allowance of �1,714.42 and Jobseeker’s Allowance of �541.95. All the money will have to be repaid.

She was sentenced to six weeks imprisonment, suspended for 18 months, during which she will be under a supervision order. She was also ordered to attend 30 days of education and employment training, undertake 100 hours of unpaid work and pay �300 in legal costs.

Parrin is one of the latest in a number of cases brought by Fenland District Council against benefit fraudsters. Five other cheats, with overpayments totalling about �40,000, have been successfully prosecuted in the past month. One was sentenced to 250 hours unpaid community work, given an 18-month supervision order and required to attend a thinking skills programme. The other four are awaiting sentencing.

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