6 Jan 2019

Man admits benefit fraud

A 52 year old man has avoided jail after pleading guilty to committing benefit fraud.

Peter Brown, from Darwen, admitted six charges of dishonesty in which he failed to notify the Department of Work and Pensions and Blackburn with Darwen Council about a change to his employment status.

At the hearing at Burnley Magistrates Court, Neil White, prosecuting, said that between 2014 and 2017, Brown had continued to claim benefits, including income support, housing benefit, employment support allowance and job seekers' allowance, as well as falsely claiming carers' allowance, despite being in receipt of a wage from paid employment.

The benefits claimed amounted to a total of £11,938.94.

The court heard that Brown had believed he was entitled to still claim the benefits providing he undertook no more than two days of paid work per week, but when his employment status changed he failed to disclose this information to the relevant authorities and continued to claim the full amount.

Mr White said: “He should have disclosed his employment status to the DWP but when filling out his forms he did not do this. He accepts that he had been working, and says he misunderstood the forms. I believe the claims did not begin as fraudulent but when he found himself with more work than allowed on these benefits, that’s what it turned into.”

Defending, Duncan Nightingale said his client was of good character and had no previous convictions and had been confused by the paperwork and the change in the benefits system as time had gone by.

“His belief was that he was allowed to work two days a week without having to disclose the information, but when he sometimes worked more than this he failed to inform the DWP.”

Mr Nightingale asked the court to be lenient, saying given the circumstances and his guilty plea, Brown should not be given a custodial sentence.

He was handed a 12-month community order, and ordered to carry out 30 hours' unpaid work.


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