Ribble Valley £44,000 benefit cheats in court

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RIBBLE Valley Borough Council has joined forces with the Department for Work and Pensions to prosecute two benefits cheats.

One claimant received housing and council tax benefit of nearly £12,000 they were not entitled to, as well as nearly £28,000 in additional benefits from the Department of Work and Pensions.

That claimant received an eight-month prison sentence suspended for one year, a 12-month supervision order and had to repay the money, as well as £300 in legal costs.

A second claimant received a conditional discharge for 12 months after receiving housing and council tax benefit of nearly £4,000 they were not entitled to. That claimant had to repay the benefit, as well as £150 in legal costs.

In both cases, the claimants failed to notify the council of a change in their circumstances which affected their entitlement to benefits.

A Ribble Valley Borough Council spokesman said: “Committing benefit fraud can lead to prosecution, fines or imprisonment and, in all cases, claimants will have to repay any money they were not entitled to.

“If claimants deliberately fail to report a change in their circumstances, or are dishonest about information supporting their benefit claim, they are treated as having committed benefit fraud. Ribble Valley Borough Council takes benefit fraud seriously and will not hesitate to take action.”

Benefits claimants are advised to tell their benefits office about any changes in personal circumstances immediately. A change in circumstance could be returning to work, starting a business, or a partner joining your household. The benefits office will tell you if the change affects your benefit.

More information is available from Ribble Valley Borough Council’s benefits helpline on 01200 414453.