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2 Dec 2014

Council to continue to employ £22k benefit thief

A Liverpool council employee caught falsely claiming £22,000 in benefits is set to keep her job.

Jacqueline Simpson swindled more than £22,000 of taxpayers’ money through dishonest Disability Living Allowance claims but it is unclear if she even faced formal disciplinary action.

The authority defended its position by saying the crime was not linked to council funds – an approach labelled “negligent” by one critic.

Simpson was handed a six month community order and placed on a curfew after being sentenced at Wirral magistrates’ court last month.

Court documents reveal that in 2008 the 54-year-old “dishonestly made a statement or representation to the Department for Work and Pensions which was false” because her physical capabilities were greater than she had stated in the application.

The Crown Prosecution Service confirmed Simpson falsely received £22,466 and “at the time of the offence she was working at Liverpool council”.

The ECHO understands Simpson, believed to work in the council’s Housing Options Service, is set to remain a council employee following her prosecution and a statement from the authority appeared to suggest she may not even face official disciplinary action.

Cllr Steve Radford, leader of the Liberal Group, described this as a “worrying precedent”, adding “once again the city council has taken the line of least resistance”.

He said: “Whilst it’s difficult to comment on individual cases without knowing all of the facts I would expect anyone in a position of access to private and confidential funds or any position of being in charge of disbursement of public funds to have the need to be seen as acting with integrity and competence. Committing benefit fraud of not insignificant monies I think calls that into question and I would expect at the very least to have an investigation into the credibility of the person ... not to ask the question in a professional competence review is an act of negligence by the council.”

A spokesman for the authority said: “The council does not normally comment on matters involving an individual employee, however this case was not linked to fraud involving Liverpool city council funds in any way. In general terms, when an employee is charged with, or convicted of a crime, we assess the situation to determine the potential impact on the employee’s specific job and on their employment in general. In cases where there is a potential impact the council will apply its disciplinary procedures.”

He refused to clarify whether Simpson had faced any formal disciplinary action as a result of her prosecution.

So Liverpool Council would continue to employ a burglar as long as it wasn't in the housing department?

There must be plenty of unemployed people in Liverpool who deserve this job more than this criminal does. But Labour are disciminating in favour of incumbent workers.

Maybe she's a member of a trade union?

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