Benefit fraudster given 200 hours unpaid work

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A RUGBY man who cheated the benefits system out of more than £24,000 has been ordered to do 200 hours of unpaid work, given a 12 months supervision order and ordered to pay £200 in court costs.

Ian Reynolds, 47, who lives in Biart Place, Rugby, pleaded guilty to three counts of claiming housing benefit, job seekers allowance and council tax benefit from May 2005 to October 2010.

However, Rugby Magistrates heard that during this period of the claim, Reynolds had inherited £25,000, which he failed to declare.

The fraud came to light through a data matching exercise showing a separate bank account that had not been declared to either the Department for Work and Pensions or Rugby Borough Council.

Officers from the Department for Work and Pensions interviewed and cautioned Reynolds on 18th October 2010.

Reynolds stated that he was claiming benefit as he was unemployed. He confirmed that he was aware that he would need to report changes in his circumstances and that these changes included changes to work and capital. Reynolds confirmed that he had no savings and was aware that if he did it would affect his benefit entitlement.

Reynolds was then asked if he had another bank account and said ‘sort of technically.’ He was asked what he meant by this and said that he was left £25,000 by his mother and father approximately five years ago and this money was in this separate account. He stated that he did not want this money and had only used it in emergencies. He stated that it was his intention not to spend this money and leave it to his niece.

Reynolds was invited to attend further interviews under caution with officers from the Department for Work and Pensions and Rugby Borough Council however he failed to attend any of these interviews.

As a result of failing to declare that he had capital over the prescribed limit Reynolds has been overpaid housing benefit by £9,049.23 and council tax benefit by £3,024.25. He has also been overpaid job seekers allowance by £12,624.39 resulting in a total overpayment of £24,697.87.

Magistrates ordered Reynolds, a single man living on his own to do 200 hours of unpaid work, gave him a 12 month Supervision order and ordered him to pay £200, court costs.

The Department for Work and Pensions said Benefit cheats steal money which is intended for the most vulnerable people in our society. The Department for Work Pensions and Rugby Borough Council are working together to ensure that benefit fraudsters are not only prosecuted and get a criminal record for their offences but also have to repay all monies owing to both the DWP and to the Council - in full.

Adam Norburn, Head of Resources at Rugby Borough Council, said: “This is a great example of the proactive work we do here, liaising with other government departments.

“The council is determined to find and prevent abuse of the benefits system and will take appropriate action to protect public money.

“However, help is always available for people who are genuinely entitled to receive benefits. I would urge anyone that feels they may be entitled to contact the council for help and advice.”