Two prosecuted over benefit fraud in Lichfield

Two people from Lichfield have been prosecuted for benefit fraud.

Sarah Harvey, 43, or Collins Hill in the city, pleaded guilty to a charge of failing to give prompt notification of a change of circumstances, which affected her entitlement to benefit.

The court heard that she started work in April 2012, but only declared it to Lichfield District Council in October 2012 when she completed a review form. As a result, Harvey was overpaid £3,762 housing benefit, council tax benefit and council tax support.

The magistrate said that she must have known that she was required to report the change, and ordered her to pay back the money, fined her £75 and told her to pay costs of £450 plus a £20 victim surcharge.

In another case, also heard at Stafford Magistrates’ Court on June 18, Lee Barnes, of Cartersfield Lane in Stonnall, pleaded guilty to two charges of failing to give prompt notification of a change of circumstances, which affected his entitlement to benefit.

The court heard that the 39-year-old’s partner started work at a playgroup in February 2012 and started a second job in April 2012 with Staffordshire County Council. Neither of these were reported until a review of Barnes’ benefit was conducted at a home visit in August 2013.

As a result he was overpaid £2,213 in housing benefit, council tax benefit and council tax support. On top of having to pay back the benefit, Barnes was fined £260 and ordered to pay £450 costs plus £20 victim surcharge.

Councillor Chris Spruce, Lichfield District Council’s Cabinet Member for Finance, Democratic & Legal Services, said: “Both these cases illustrate how important it is to tell us about any changes to your circumstances, which could affect your entitlement to benefits, straightaway.”

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