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3 May 2013

Benefit claimant had £122k in the bank

A 65 year man from Whitley has been sentenced to six months in custody, suspended for two years, after being found guilty of benefit fraud.

Roy Edward Watt had been falsely claiming £16,261 of housing benefit and council tax benefit from Reading Borough Council between December 2010 and April 2012. On January 12, 2011, he also made a false claim for pension credits in a call to the Department for Work and Pensions.

Following a joint investigation by the DWP and Reading Borough Council, information obtained from Mr Watt’s bank statements showed he had a balance in excess of £122,000 at the time of making the claims. He had stated in benefits application forms that he only had £200 in the bank.

Mr Watt pleaded guilty to three charges involving false representations made to the Council and DWP and was sentenced at Reading Magistrates’ Court. Not only did he receive a suspended custodial sentence, but was also told by magistrates to do 200 hours of unpaid work and ordered to pay compensation (Reading Borough Council) of £5,000.

The court also ordered he pay legal costs of £969.62.

Jo Lovelock, leader of Reading Borough Council, said: “The Council takes all incidents of benefit fraud extremely seriously and has a good working relationship with other agencies such as DWP to ensure those guilty of fraud are caught and brought to justice. If anyone suspects anyone of receiving benefits they are not entitled, they should contact the Council.”

People caught cheating the benefits system can be fined up to £5,000 and be given a maximum sentence of six months imprisonment or both (in magistrates' court).

If the case if referred to Crown Court, the penalties are more severe, where the maximum penalty is an unlimited fine or up to seven years imprisonment or both.

In addition to the fines and sentences imposed by the court, all of these residents will be required to repay the benefits falsely received.

Arrangements will be made between residents and the Council to recover the overpayment of benefit.
  • Benefit thieves do it for the money. They should know they will have to pay back twice what they stole. They should not be eligible for any benefits until they have, and they should have to do some unpaid work every week until the debt to society is cleared.

    That would be a deterrent.

    A confiscation order should be made immediately. In a case like this the authorities should be able to take the money from his account immediately guilt is confirmed.

    Hit them in the pocket!

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