1 Mar 2013

£34k benefit cheat could take 12 years to repay us

Benefit cheat Andrew Milligan fiddled nearly £34,000 in wrongful payments – but it could be 12 years before he has finally repaid it all.

He dishonestly racked piles of taxpayers' money by keeping quiet that his partner was working, Grimsby magistrates heard.

Milligan, 55, admitted three offences of making false statements to obtain benefit between February and May, 2007.

Eve Richardson-Smith, prosecuting for North East Lincolnshire Council, said Milligan failed to declare that his partner, Linda Black, 42, was working when she was employed by Sealord Caistor Ltd, in the name Lynn Milligan. He falsely obtained £20,165.84 in housing benefit, £10,661.94 in Jobseeker's Allowance and £3,145.92 in council tax benefit – a total of £33,973.70.

The money was fiddled over a period of around five-and-a-half years between February 19, 2007 and September 30 last year, and there was a clear intention to defraud the system from the outset, said Mrs Richardson-Smith.

When he first made his claim in February, 2007, Milligan said he had seven dependent children.

When challenged about the fraud, he denied that his partner was in paid work and that she was known under two different names.

The company confirmed that Linda Black had worked for Sealord Caistor Ltd since July, 2006, but Milligan failed to report this.

He later admitted that he did not declare her earnings because he had a large family to keep.

He did not admit to wrongdoing in his first interview because he "knew he was in trouble".

Ed Bates, mitigating, said Milligan made admissions, pleaded guilty, regretted his behaviour and was voluntarily repaying more than £50 a week.

Milligan was given a four-month suspended prison sentence, 160 hours' unpaid work and was ordered to pay £100 costs.

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