Suffolk Coastal: Council pledge to pursue benefit cheats
09:00 15 December 2012
COUNCIL chiefs have vowed to continue to take a tough stance against benefit cheats, following two successful prosecutions.
Amanda Shuter, 53, of The Street, Walberswick, was fined £500 after she failed to tell Suffolk Coastal District Council about a change in circumstances when she received more than £110,000 from the proceeds of her mother’s will.
It resulted in her wrongly receiving £6,671.89 of housing benefits and £1,850.63 of council tax benefits.
She pleaded guilty to one offence of dishonestly making a false statement for the purpose of obtaining benefit at Lowestoft Magistrates Court on Wednesday. Along with a £500 fine, £150 costs and £15 victim surcharge, she will also have to pay back the money she claimed – an overall total of £9,187.52.
At an unrelated hearing on Tuesday, Amy Robinson, of Wadgate Road, Felixstowe, admitted two charges of failing to notify the relevant authorities of a change in her circumstances that affected her entitlement to claim benefits.
The 24-year-old, formerly of Cricket Hill Road, Felixstowe, received £4,303.33 of housing benefits and £776.69 of council tax benefit from Suffolk Coastal and £2,734.36 of income support from the Department of Work and Pensions when she failed to say her partner had moved into her home in June last year.
Magistrates in Ipswich fined her £140 for each charge along with demanding £75 costs and a £15 victim surcharge, while she will also have to pay back the money she claimed – a total bill of £8,184.38.
In a statement released after the court case, Siobhan Martin, Suffolk Coastal’s audit partnership manager, said the authority was committed to rooting out all benefit fraud and reclaiming what had been paid out.
“This should be a further stark warning to those who are tempted to cheat the system and claim money to which they are not entitled that they will be caught,” she said.
“The consequences are likely to mean legal action and the repayment of all money that has been wrongly received.
“At a time when everyone’s finances are under pressure, and local councils particularly, we have to be more vigilant than ever on payments and we will continue to seek out and penalise the small minority who are intent on taking what is not rightfully theirs.
“However, we are also committed to helping those who are genuinely in need to get the support they deserve.”
To report a suspected fraud contact Suffolk Coastal’s confidential hotline on 01394 444444 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Those who would like more information about the benefits they are entitled to can call 01394 444838 or visit www.suffolkcoastal.gov.uk/yourhome/benefits.