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15 May 2014

Benefit thief could lose his taxi licence

A taxi driver has been sentenced to eight weeks in prison, suspended for a year, after fraudulently claiming almost £4,000 in benefits.

Steven Cheeseman, 60, from Wellingborough, was working full-time when he claimed housing benefit and council tax benefit.

This is the second time he has been convicted of benefit fraud offences, having previously been caught working while claiming back in 2005.

Wellingborough Council began investigations after information was received that Mr Cheeseman was working full-time as a taxi driver with two local companies at a time when he was claiming benefits and declaring himself as unemployed. When the information was confirmed, Mr Cheeseman was interviewed under caution by council officers and later charged to appear at Wellingborough Magistrates Court.

He pleaded guilty to three offences - two of dishonestly failing to notify the change of circumstances with his employment, and one of dishonestly furnishing a false document with a view to obtaining housing and council tax benefit.

He was sentenced to eight weeks in prison, suspended for twelve months, as well as 100 hours of unpaid work. He was also ordered to pay £300 costs and an £80 victim surcharge.

Wellingborough Council’s taxi licensing policy states that a serious view will be taken regarding offences relating to dishonesty, and it is likely that Mr Cheeseman will be brought before a licensing committee, where he could have his licence revoked.

Mr Cheeseman had fraudulently claimed £2,914.84 housing benefit and £854.83 council tax benefit, making a total overpayment of £3,769.67.

Wellingborough Council will pursue full recovery of the overpayment.

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