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20 May 2014

Lakeland council names and shames benefit thieves

Three people who wrongly claimed a total of £13,000 in benefits have been prosecuted by South Lakeland District Council.

Senior solicitors at SLDC have now warned the public it takes benefit fraud ‘extremely seriously’ and will take a ‘tough stance’.

Nicola Howes was handed a community order and placed under curfew after magistrates heard she dishonestly claimed more than £5,000 in housing and council tax benefits, said the council. She pleaded guilty to failing to disclose a change of circumstances by not informing the council she had taken a job and her partner was earning more after increasing his hours at work, it said. Howes was also ordered to pay a £60 victim surcharge and all of SLDC’s court costs of £315, said the authority.

Magistrates also ordered Gary Cockburn to complete 120 hours of unpaid community work over 12 months after he pleaded guilty to knowingly failing to declare a change in circumstances contrary to section 112 of the Social Security Administration Act. He fraudulently claimed £4866 in housing and council tax benefits, said the council. He was ordered to pay a £60 victim surcharge and a £200 contribution to SLDC’s court costs, it said.

William Liptrot pleaded guilty to fraudulently claiming £3344 in council tax and housing benefits after knowingly failing to declare a change in circumstances. He was sentenced to 50 hours of unpaid work over six months and was ordered to pay all SLDC’s court costs of £372 plus a victim surcharge of £60, said the authority.

You can see what the council is doing here. The sentences couldn't be called harsh, but SLDC are using the publicity of naming and shaming as a deterrent.

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