A man fraudulently claimed an ‘eye-watering’ £100,000 in benefits over 12 years despite owning two homes.
Alan Littleboy cheated the Department of Work & Pensions after inheriting his father’s bungalow.
The unemployed 57-year-old made £101,089 by claiming income support, employment support allowance and council tax benefit.
He was supposed to declare any changes but each year sent in a form not mentioning the bungalow in Selsey, the court heard.
Majit Dogra, prosecuting, said: ‘Mr Littleboy claimed income support in 1998 and was granted income support. It later transferred to Employment Support Allowance and he claimed council tax benefit. In 2000, following the passing of his father, Mr Littleboy inherited his father’s property.’
Despite inheriting the property he failed to notify the DWP.
Portsmouth Crown Court heard Littleboy claimed £66,655 of income support for 500 weeks, £21,607 of ESA for 147 weeks and £12,827 of council tax benefit between 2002 and 2014.
The house had been under a different surname to his own, but that had been a mistake made by lawyers handling the inheritance, Ms Bridget O’Hagan defending, said. She added: ‘It’s clear to me that he doesn’t view the bungalow as a capital asset. It was uninhabitable when he inherited it and was for some time. To him it’s something like an emotional shrine.’
The DWP is set to chase Littleboy for the cash through Proceeds of Crime Act proceedings. He plans to move into his father’s former home and his current home is on the market with Pearsons estate agents.
Judge Claudia Ackner handed Littleboy a 20-month prison sentence suspended for two years with a three-month 6pm-6am curfew with electronic tag.
The judge added the benefits system existed to help
people in genuine financial hardship.
Addressing Littleboy judge Ackner said: ‘For you to divert a significant sum of money to top up your lifestyle is an abuse of that system.’ She added she accepted he had ‘limited understanding’ about the consequences of his actions.
Sean Woodward, leader of Fareham Borough Council, said: ‘Clearly the overall sum involved is an eye-watering amount to anybody. That being fraudulently extracted from the taxpayer, I’m sure the taxpayer’s pleased to see justice being done. Taxpayers will rightly expect that everything should be paid back immediately with interest.’