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14 Feb 2018

Light sentence for social housing fraud

A woman has been kicked out of her council house after admitting she already owned a three-bedroom home.

Gillian Norris has been living in social housing in Great Milton for more than four years, having fraudently applied via the housing register.

The 46-year-old has been ordered to pay £1,530 after councils discovered she already owned a home in Holyhead, Wales, at the time of applying.

Councillors said she 'deprived a family in genuine need of a house', and stressed social housing fraud is not a 'victimless crime'.

Norris, of Green Hitchings in Great Milton, pleaded guilty at Oxford Magistrates' Court to one charge of knowingly or recklessly making a false statement in connection to the allocation of housing.

It is the first time someone has been convicted for housing fraud in South Oxfordshire.

Magistrates heard she had been living in the three-bedroom SOHA Housing house, and had been renting out her other home to a family member.

Norris would not have been eligible to apply for social housing if she had disclosed that she already owned the property.

She was caught following an anonymous tip-off and subsequent investigation by SOHA Housing, South Oxfordshire District Council and Oxford City Council.

Following her guilty plea on January 30, Norris was fined £250 and ordered to pay £1,250 and a £30 victim surcharge.

Jane Murphy, deputy leader of the district council, said: “Social housing is there to provide a vital resource for those who are in genuine need and do not have the money available to rent a home privately. We have a significant housing shortage, not just in South Oxfordshire but across the country, with people really struggling to find appropriate accommodation. By making and maintaining this fraudulent claim this lady has effectively deprived a family in genuine need of a house.”

The councils are now working make the home available again on the housing register.

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This is a trivial sentence for taking up social housing for four years.

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