Dales crackdown on benefit cheats

A man who claimed to be single was really living as man and wife with his “landlady”, benefit fraud investigators discovered.

That was just one case highlighted by Derbyshire Dales District Council which has adopted a zero tolerance policy on Housing Benefits and Council Tax Benefit fraud and is pledging to prosecute offender.

During the financial year 2010/11 the District Council’s investigation staff were able to recover £62,072 lost to the public purse as fraudulently claimed benefit.

The Benefit Fraud Team at Derbyshire Dales District Council works hard to catch anyone falsely claiming benefit and in the first three months of this year five successful prosecutions were recorded following high quality investigative work.

Offences included a local woman who failed to notify the District Council she was working while still receiving benefits and another woman who claimed a single parent benefit while living with her employed partner.

In another case, a local man fraudulently claimed benefits supposedly as a single man when his landlady was in fact living in the same property with him as man and wife.

Fines ranged from a suspended custodial sentence and unpaid community service orders to fines across the five prosecutions totalling £400.

Leader of Derbyshire Dales District Council, Councillor Lewis Rose OBE said: “Benefit Fraud is not a victimless crime - benefit thieves take money intended for the most vulnerable in our society.

“The District Council’s Benefits Section is not just about processing benefit claims efficiently and accurately, our staff also work hard to ensure public money that is fraudulently claimed is recovered from the criminal.

“However, to successfully bring these cheats to justice, we rely on anonymous referrals from the general public. Our message is: please help us protect your money.”

In addition to the five successful prosecutions in the first three months of this year, the District Council enforced three Local Authority cautions against local people who were fraudulently claiming the above benefits.

Contact the District Council’s Benefit Fraud team at the Town Hall, Bank Road, Matlock DE4 3NN. You can also speak to one of the District Council’s fraud investigators in confidence on 01629 761 330 or email benefits@derbyshiredales.gov.uk