A TAMWORTH woman claimed more than £26,000 in Income Support, Jobseekers Allowance, Employment Support Allowance, Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit has been prosecuted by Tamworth Borough Council and the Department for Work and Pensions.
Christina Lenihan, 59, of Bancroft, Glascote Heath, failed to declare that she was living with her partner and had been claiming as a single person.
The total overpayment was £26,681.67 which consisted of £2,196.62 Income Support, £222.27 Jobseekers Allowance, £1,190.80 Employment Support Allowance, £18,125.61 Housing Benefit and £4,946.37 Council Tax Benefit.
Ms Lenihan attended Burton Magistrates Court on Wednesday where she pleaded guilty. She was sentenced to 20 weeks in custody suspended for 18 months, 120 hours unpaid work, ordered to complete the Benefit Fraud Structured Intervention Workbook and was ordered to pay £150 costs and £80 victim surcharge. She was also ordered to pay back the £26,681.67 which had been fraudulently claimed.
Cllr Robert Pritchard, Deputy Leader of Tamworth Borough Council, said: “We are taking a strong stance when it comes to benefit fraud as it is a serious crime which affects all of the taxpayers in Tamworth.
“The money wrongfully claimed by benefit cheats could be spent elsewhere, such as improving our town or helping those who really need it. While everyone is facing potential financial difficulties, providing false information to claim benefits you are not entitled to is not an option.”
Benefit fraud is committed when a person deliberately provides false information, deliberately withholds information or allows someone else to provide false information to obtain benefits to which they are not entitled. It is important that residents keep their details up to date and let the Benefits Team know if there have been any changes in circumstances.
If you are not sure if you need to change your details, please contact a member of the Benefits Team on 709540. To report someone you believe may be committing Benefit Fraud, you can also contact The National Benefit Fraud Hotline in confidence on 0800 328 6340.