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18 Jun 2018

Jail for £24k benefit fraudster

Benefit fraudster Alan Lancaster, from Biddulph, has been sent to prison after he wrongly claimed just over £24,000.

The 63-year-old carried on receiving benefits while he was working - after he failed to tell the authorities he had got a job as a courier.

Now Lancaster, who had no previous convictions, has been jailed for 24 weeks after he admitted three benefit fraud charges.

Magistrates at North Staffordshire Justice Centre heard Lancaster legitimately started claiming Employment Support Allowance and housing benefit when he had to give up work due to a back injury.

Prosecutor Lynne Warrington said: "He did not notify the authorities that he had commenced employment.

"In January 2014 he made an application in respect of the income-based portion of Employment Support Allowance on which he claimed he was not working. However, this was not the case. The total overpayment was £24,770. When he was interviewed under caution he accepted that when he began working he had not notified the Department for Work and Pensions, as he was aware he was due to do.

"He accepted that when he made the application false information was given, which would have affected which benefits he was entitled to."

Lancaster pleaded guilty to two counts of dishonestly failing to notify a change in his circumstances affecting his entitlement to benefits, and dishonestly making a false statement to obtain benefits.

He told a probation officer that when he got the job as a courier he was on a 'zero hours' contract and work was sporadic, so he never felt he was working enough to justify telling the authorities.

Mark Bromley, mitigating, said Lancaster was remorseful and added: "He intends to repay every penny that has been overpaid to him."

Jailing Lancaster, magistrates said that the only appropriate sentence was immediate custody.

Chairman of the bench, Phillip Taylor, said: "It was not for you to judge whether the change in your circumstances needed to be disclosed. This has a damaging effect on the public purse. The public need to maintain confidence in the scrutiny of benefit claimants."

Source

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