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Benefits cheat must repay stolen £6,600
A BENEFITS cheat has been ordered to pay back more than £6,600 after continuing to claim financial help for a house he had been evicted from.
Benjamin Woodhouse, 27, admitted failing to declare his change in circumstance and dishonestly making false statements to obtain housing benefit during an appearance at Southend Magistrates’ Court.
He started claiming housing benefit for a room he rented in Valkyrie Road, Westcliff, in January 2010.
Despite being evicted six months later, he failed to stop his claim and even rang Southend Council on two occasions to chase payments, maintaining he still lived at the address.
Andrew Moring, Southend Tory councillor responsible for corporate services, said: “We are fully committed to paying benefits to those who have legitimate claims and genuine needs, but we must also protect public finances.
“The fact this claimant had the audacity to chase up payments of his fraudulent claim demonstrates this was not a genuine mistake.
“Remember, benefit fraud is not a victimless crime. It affects all council tax payers and those in receipt of council services.
“If money is effectively stolen from us, we have less with which to provide services, or council tax will have to rise to replace it. We take very seriously any attempt to abuse the benefits system.
“People who do sowill be punished and penalties can be much more than the repayment of illegally obtained benefits, as this case shows.”
Woodhouse, now of Silverdale Avenue, Westcliff, was handed a 12- month community order and must complete 180 hours of unpaid work.
He must also repay £6,629 of overpaid benefit, pay £100 towards prosecution costs and a £60 victim surcharge.
Anyone who has suspicions about someone’s entitlement to benefits is urged to contact the counter fraud team at Southend Council on 01702 215254 or e-mail counterfraud @southend.gov.uk.
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