Two Lincoln women in court after cheating councils out of £17k in benefits

Two women have appeared in Lincoln Magistrates Court after fraudulently claiming more than £17,500 between them in benefits.

Joanne Law, 45, who now lives in Spital-in-the-Street, admitted failing to notify the council of changes in her circumstances.

Her failure to claim this resulted in her receiving £12,685.70 in Council Tax and Housing Benefits she was not entitled to between July 2010 and March 2013, when she was living in Skellingthorpe Road in Lincoln.

The overpayment was discovered when a benefits data match by City of Lincoln and North Kesteven District Council’s Shared Revenues and Benefits Service showed Law’s previously unemployed partner had got a new job, and was bringing new income into the household.

Taking into account Law’s disability and late guilty plea, the district judge imposed an electronic surveillance order and a curfew from 9pm until 6am for eight weeks following the court hearing on Wednesday, April 15.

Law was also ordered to pay the council’s legal costs of £150 and a £60 victims’ surcharge.

There was no Compensation Order as Law has already put in place a repayments plan with the council.

In a second case heard the same day, Marie Duncan, 40, of Main Street, Fenton, also pleaded guilty to failing to notify North Kesteven District Council of changes in her circumstances

She was overpaid by nearly £5,000 in Council Tax and Housing Benefits between March 2013 and June 2014.

Duncan, who lived in Leadenham at the time, had got a new job after a period of unemployment.

As in the previous case, the overpayment was discovered when a benefits data match showed Duncan was earning, thus triggering an investigation.

The court heard Duncan had not made any arrangements to pay the money owed and was also struggling with other debts.

She was ordered to pay a fine of £280, the council’s legal costs of £150, a victims’ surcharge of £28 and a Compensation Order to repay the £4,929.27 she had fraudulently claimed.

The City of Lincoln Council is reminding residents to make changes to their circumstances known.

Martin Walmsley, Head of the Shared Revenues and Benefits Service, said: “There is no excuse not to let your local council know when your circumstances have changed.

“Every claimant signs a declaration on benefits claims forms agreeing to give prompt notification in writing of any change in circumstances that may affect their benefit entitlement.

“This includes a warning that not doing so could result in court action and, as these cases demonstrate, we are committed to tackling benefit fraud.

“We would urge anyone claiming benefits to let us know as soon as possible of any changes. If they are unsure whether they need to tell us something, please just ask.”

Changes in circumstances could include (this list is not exhaustive):

  • If you move home
  • If someone moves in or out
  • If your income changes
  • If your rent changes
  • If you qualify for another benefit
  • If you stop getting Income Support or Jobseeker’s Allowance
  • If anyone living in your home has a change of circumstance

People living in Lincoln can report changes online by e-mailing benefits@lincoln.gov.uk, by calling 01522 873355 or in person at City Hall.

North Kesteven residents can go online here, e-mail NKBenefits@lincoln.gov.uk, or call 01529 414155.