A woman has been ordered to undertake 80 hours of community work after falsely claiming more than £18,000 in benefits, despite having savings.
Heather Clinch initially claimed housing benefit and council tax benefit from Arun District Council while living in Arundel.
In 2014 the 53-year-old moved to Fittleworth and claimed housing benefit from Chichester District Council. Her reasons for claiming the benefits were because she had a low household income and no savings.
An investigation by Chichester District Council found that during the period of the benefit claims she had savings of more than £16,000. These had not been declared to either council. She would not have been entitled to the benefit if she had declared these savings.
She was overpaid £12,195.60 in Housing Benefit by Arun District Council from 14 March 2011 to 26 January 2014. She received £757.12 in Council Tax Benefit by Arun District Council from 14 March 2011 to 11 November 2012. She gained £5,263.56 Housing Benefit by Chichester District Council from 23 January 2014 to 30 August 2015.
The prosecution was brought by the Department for Work and Pensions. Ms Clinch pleaded not guilty to three charges of dishonestly obtaining benefit. Following a trial she was found guilty of all charges.
The court ordered her to complete 80 hours of unpaid work over 12 months. She was also ordered to pay £770 in court costs plus a victim surcharge of £85.
These people do it for the money. So hit them in the pocket. It was money that motivated them, and a financial penalty will help to deter them.
People who conceal savings should have to repay twice what they stole.