17 Aug 2017

Three year benefit fraud

More than £23,000 was overpaid in benefits to a Pembroke man who failed to tell the authority that he had a lodger.

Christopher Page pleaded guilty to two charges of dishonestly failing to notify of changes to his circumstances which could affect his entitlements to benefits when he appeared before Haverfordwest magistrates last Tuesday.

The court heard that Page had not informed Pembrokeshire County Council that a working man was living in his home, which would affect his entitlement to council tax and housing benefits.

He was overpaid a total of £23,303.19 between October 2013 and September 2016, and the bench heard that measures had already been put in place for monthly repayments.

Vaughan Pritchard-Jones, prosecuting, said: “He had to fill in various forms about who was living in the property with him. Three forms were filled in, and his answer to the question on each occasion was that no-one was living with him. It came to light that a working man was living in one of the rooms at the property, and the defendant did not notify the local authority of that.”

Jonathan Webb, defending, said: “The defendant had a male friend living with him as a flat share for a number of years and did not think that he would have to declare it. He found out subsequently that he needed to.”

The bench heard that Page, who acted as carer, was currently working at a local car breaking yard, and the situation had been reversed between tenant and lodger.

After considering a probation report, magistrates imposed a three month custodial sentence for each offence, to run consecutively, suspended for 12 months. He was also ordered to complete 200 hours of unpaid work, and pay a £80 surcharge plus £85 court costs.

The chairman of the bench said: “We seriously considered sending you to prison today because it was a substantial sum involved in the benefit fraud.”


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