Crook hid savings while illegally claiming £32,000 in benefits
Published by Max Salsbury for 24dash.com in Local Government and also in Legal
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A benefits fraudster helped herself to over £32,000 in welfare pay-outs - whilst hiding savings of more than £16,000.
Paula Hayward, of Rainbow Hill, Worcester, failed to declare the capital she held in a number of bank accounts, bonds and investment policies when she applied for benefits.
Over a five-year period, the crooked 60-year-old received illegal overpayments of £19,000 in income support and employment & support allowance, and a further £12,000 in housing and council tax benefit.
Her illicit schemes were uncovered in a joint investigation by Worcester City Council and the Department for Work and Pensions, who found that she possessed capital above the threshold of £16,000, which legally barred her from claiming benefits.
Appearing at Worcester Magistrates' Court last week, Hayward pleaded guilty to charges under the Fraud Act 2006 of dishonestly failing to disclose information which she was under a legal duty to disclose.
Magistrates ordered her to repay the total of £32,020.14 she had falsely claimed and sentenced her to a 12-month community service order. She must also perform 100 hours of unpaid work in the community.
Nick Jefferies, partnership director for the South Worcestershire Partnership, which manages benefits claims on behalf of the council, said: “It is important that benefits are only paid to those who are entitled to them. This was a premeditated case, designed to defraud the taxpayer of money by the claiming of benefits to which Hayward was not entitled.
“This case sends a clear message that if you try to cheat the system when you claim benefits, you will get caught. Remember: benefits cheats create higher bills for everyone else.”