Benefit fraud pensioner given conditional discharge

A Redditch pensioner received a 12-month conditional discharge after pleading guilty to benefit fraud.

Redditch Magistrates’ Court heard that Eileen Hill, aged 68, of Exhall Close, had fraudulently obtained over £16,000 in Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit by failing to declare her full circumstances.

The court heard last month that Redditch Borough Council identified that the claim had been incorrectly paid since 1998 through data matching carried out with the Department for Work and Pensions against information held by the Inland Revenue.

A substantial amount of the overpaid benefit had already been repaid with the remainder due to be paid back within 28 days of the hearing, the court also heard.

Magistrates passed the 12-month conditional discharge after hearing Mrs Hill was of previous good character.

A spokesperson for Redditch Borough Council said: “This case again shows the importance of using data matching to uncover fraudulent claims. Had this claim not been investigated at this time then the offences are likely to still be continuing and becoming more serious.

Data matching is used to identify claims that are incorrectly in payment for a number of reasons, for example; incorrectly or undeclared work, private pensions, capital, Tax Credits or Social Security Benefits. It is the customer’s responsibility to declare their full circumstances but data matching continues to regularly identify cases where this has not happened.

The Benefit Section has recently started sending a “change of circumstances” form with all decision letters in order to make it easier and to remind customers to report changes as they happen.”

Anybody wishing to report a suspected fraud can leave a message on the Redditch Borough Council Hotline at any time on 01527 534164 or ring the Investigations Team directly on 01527 534010 or 534011 during office hours.

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