News release from 23/10/2020

Two residents found guilty of falsely claiming Council Tax support

Two residents found guilty of falsely claiming Council Tax support

South Cambridgeshire Council finance bosses have said that recent successful prosecutions of two residents, who claimed Council Tax support payments they weren’t entitled to, is a timely reminder to benefit claimants to ensure they report changes in their circumstances during the Covid crisis.

The Council expressed concern that anyone falsely claiming benefits is taking vital funds away from those in genuine need at a time when all public funds are being stretched in helping fight the effects of the pandemic.

Any changes to the financial or other circumstances of those receiving benefits should always be notified to the authority, as it can alter the amount of support claimants are entitled to.

The two defendants appeared at in front of local Magistrates in separate cases earlier this week.

A woman from Dry Drayton was convicted and fined £177 and ordered to pay the Council costs of £1193.63 after pleading guilty to three separate counts of Council Tax support fraud. The claimant had failed to declare capital savings, income from students and that her entitlement to DWP benefit had ceased, resulting in a loss of over £12,000 in falsely claimed Council Tax support between April 2013 and March 2019.

A man from Landbeach was convicted and ordered to pay £500 costs for claiming Council Tax support and failing to disclose cash income from employment and that his entitlement to DWP benefit had ceased. The man pleaded guilty to two counts of failing to notify a change of circumstances whilst continuing to claim and was given a 12-month conditional discharge. Failure to disclose the changes resulted in a loss of over £3,000 in falsely claimed Council Tax support between November 2016 and 20 January 2019.

Cllr John Williams, South Cambridgeshire District Council’s Lead Cabinet Member for Finance, said: “Whilst prosecution is always a last resort for the Council, these cases highlight why it is so important that any resident claiming benefits must tell us if their circumstances change.

“During this awful crisis, which has affected so many people locally, nationally and around the globe, we need to ensure more than ever that the stretched finances we have available go to those in real need in our district. Our teams are always happy to speak to residents about the benefits system and answer any queries. We want to help people claim what they are entitled to but won’t tolerate anyone claiming financial assistance that they should not be getting. If you are claiming benefits and you think your circumstances have changed, please talk to us. If you are found guilty of fraud, you could end up with a criminal record.”