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24 Jun 2015

Couple in social housing and benefits frauds

A Northolt man has been jailed for wrongly claiming nearly £69,000 in benefits whilst renting out a private property.

Ijaz Qayum, 48, of Taywood Road, was sentenced to a total of 15 months imprisonment at Isleworth Crown Court on Monday, 15 June, after previously pleading guilty to six offences involving housing and benefit fraud.

The prosecution was brought by the council after enquiries found that in 2007 Qayum and his wife, Saiqa Khan, 42, who was also charged, had, as the result of a joint homeless application, secured a council property in Hanwell. At this time they had just purchased a property in Northolt on the open market.

They also made fraudulent claims for housing benefit and council tax benefit, which are both means tested, over a period of six years between 2006 and 2012. During this time they were renting the property they owned but failed to declare any change in circumstances.

The couple were found to have obtained the council tenancy by deception, making rental savings of nearly £61,000 where rent was subsidised and significantly lower than private sector charges typical of the area.

Their failure to declare ownership of the property in Northolt and the rental income, plus bank accounts and the capital held in accounts, resulted in them being overpaid more than £11,000 in housing and council tax benefits.

A notice seeking possession for the council property was issued to the couple before it was surrendered in 2013.

The total value of the fraudulent gain attributed to Qayum over the six-year period was nearly £69,000.

Councillor Yvonne Johnson, cabinet member for finance, performance and customer services, said: “Mr Qayum chose to flout the law, taking money away from those who are in genuine need. He behaved dishonestly over a prolonged period when he should have declared a change in circumstances, resulting in the strong action the council has taken against him. This case is a significant result for us, one I hope will serve as an example to others that attempts to cheat the system will be found out and brought before the courts for justice to be served."

The council has already started proceedings to recover the overpaid amounts under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 and a confiscation hearing is set for October 2015.

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