Friday, 24 January 2014

Unpaid Work Punishment For Benefits Cheat

A Girton man who found employment but failed to cancel his benefit claim has been ordered to carry out unpaid work.

Travis Smith, 31, of Wellbrook Way, admitted one count of failing to report a change in circumstances that affected his benefit entitlement at Cambridge Magistrates Court yesterday (Thursday, 23 January).

During a routine review of Mr Smith’s benefits claim it was found that he had ended his Jobseekers Allowance claim when he started work in November 2011, but as he didn’t tell South Cambridgeshire District Council about the change his housing and council tax benefit payments continued.

Housing benefits of £120 per week were paid to Mr Smith’s landlord and a further £25 per week in council tax benefit and support led to an overpayment of £11,956.28.

Mr Smith was sentenced to a 12-month supervision order, during which he must complete 40 hours of unpaid work. He was also ordered to pay £150 towards the cost of the prosecution and a £60 victim surcharge. The overpaid benefits are already being repaid.

Cllr Simon Edwards, South Cambridgeshire district Council’s deputy leader and cabinet member for finance, said: “It is important that people receiving benefits take care to notify us when their circumstances change. Failure to do so can result in a hefty bill and even a criminal prosecution, as has happened in this case. We try to make the process as simple as possible and always encourage people to speak to us early.”

Anyone suspecting benefit fraud can report it to South Cambridgeshire District Council on 0800 7311892 or by emailing benefitfraud@scambs.gov.uk