Lichfield woman prosecuted over benefit fraud

A Lichfield woman has been fined for benefit fraud.

Joanne Edwards, of Maxtock Avenue in Lichfield, pleaded guilty to failing to give prompt notification of a change of circumstances that would have affected the amount of housing and council tax benefits she was entitled to.

Tamworth Magistrates Court heard how the 39-year-old had started a job in January 2008, but did not tell the council about it until September 2008. As a result, she was overpaid £2,277 housing and council tax benefits.

Miss Edwards was fined £205 and ordered to pay £350 court costs. She has already paid the council back all the money she had fraudulently claimed.

The case was one of three succesful prosecutions following investigations by Lichfield District Council’s Fraud Investigators.

The other cases saw 38 year-old Julie Royston, of Thornfield Crescent in Burntwood, plead guilty to failing to give prompt notification of a change of circumstances that would have affected the amount of housing and council tax benefits she was entitled to at Tamworth Magistrates Court on March 25.

The court heard how Mrs Royston had failed to promptly tell the council that her earnings and tax credits had gone up. As a result she was overpaid £2,446 housing and council tax benefits.

Mrs Royston was given a 12 month community order, ordered to do 80 hours unpaid work, and pay £150 court costs. On top of this, the council has made arrangements for her to repay all of the money she fraudulently claimed. 

Sixty-one-year-old Sandra Conway, of Millmoor Avenue in Armitage, pleaded guilty to‘making a false declaration that would affect the outcome of her housing and council tax benefits claim at Tamworth Magistrates Court on April 8.

Miss Conway failed to tell the council that she had savings and investments on her benefits application form. Had she declared to these, she would not have been entitled to receive any housing or council tax benefits. As a result she was overpaid £2,462.

Miss Conway was given a 12 month conditional discharge, and ordered to pay court costs of £350. Again, she has already paid the council all the money she had fraudulently claimed.

Councillor Colin Greatorex, Cabinet Member for Finance, Revenues and Benefits, said:

“Our Investigations team is extremely effective at uncovering benefit fraud. It’s so important that people fill out their council tax and housing benefits application forms correctly, and to tell us promptly about any changes in their circumstances. Not to do so is an offence, and we will take action against anyone we catch defrauding the system.

“To tell us about a change in your circumstance, simply call 01543 308900 and we’ll help you to claim the correct amount of benefits.”

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