Clampdown on benefits cheats
PUBLISHED: 07:00 30 December 2010
FRAUDSTERS and benefit cheats are being targeted by Sedgemoor District Council – with hefty fines in store for those found abusing the system.
The authority has been operating a clampdown on false claimants, and last week conducted two successful prosecutions.
The first saw charges brought against a 33-year-old Burnham man, who had told benefits officers he had never received a £284 housing benefit cheque.
However, an investigation showed the man had cashed the cheque himself in Cash Converters – and although he initially denied the offence, he pleaded guilty to obtaining money by deception at Bridgwater Magistrates Court.
He was fined, and also ordered to pay court charges.
The second case saw officers probing claims that a home in Lympsham was standing empty, despite it being subject to a housing benefit claim.
Investigations revealed a 45-year-old Weston man had claimed £400 a month for five months after leaving the property.
Again, the offender was fined and ordered to repay the full amount, totalling more than £1,700.
A council spokesman said: “(We) will continue to bring such cases before the courts and remain committed to working with other agencies such as our colleagues at the Department for Work and Pensions to bring the full extent of any fraudulent activity when prosecuting for benefit-related offences.”