17 Nov 2014

Conditional discharge for £7k benefit fraud offence

A MAN landed in court for benefit fraud after stashing away £55,000 in savings and never telling his long-term partner – because he feared she would spend it all.

The court heard how 72-year-old William Scott was worried that his partner, Andrea Scott, would be tempted to spend all his savings if she knew it was there.

So he decided not to tell her – and that led to trouble when she claimed benefits that, as a couple, they were not entitled to.

Ms Scott had no idea about the hidden stash and made the pension credit claim – in fact the savings should have been declared. Mr Scott, 72, appeared at Grimsby Magistrates' Court where he admitted dishonestly causing or allowing details that were not full and accurate to be declared about his capital during a pension credit claim.

Martin Howarth, prosecuting, said Andrea Scott did not know that he had £55,000 to £67,000 of money in savings at the time. Scott knew that, if a benefit claim was being made, applicants were supposed to declare that they had savings of this amount available. "He thought that if he told her about the capital, she would have spent it," said Mr Howarth. "I can see his thinking! It's now out in the open."

Andrew Havery, mitigating, said Scott and Andrea Scott had been together for many years but were not married, although she had taken his name. She made a benefits application and a form was completed, including questions related to money.

Scott would have had knowledge of the form. He had savings of £55,000 but she did not know about those savings and did not declare them," said Mr Havery.

There was an overpayment of benefit totalling £7,225. Some of it was being reclaimed from her pension credit.

"What he should have done is make her aware that there were savings in the joint family income," said Mr Havery.

The court heard that since this came to light, about £40,000 of the £55,000 had been used to turn a leasehold property into a freehold one.

Scott was given a one-year conditional discharge and was ordered to pay a Government-imposed £15 victims' surcharge.


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