August 1 2014 Latest news:
Sam Blewett, Reporter
Friday, May 9, 2014
A couple in their 70s have received suspended sentences after pleading guilty to falsely claiming more than £140,000 in benefits.
The married couple falsely claimed benefits while failing to declare they were living together, and had an undeclared property in Brentwood.
Raymond and Georgina Wood, 79 and 75, of Grantham, Lincolnshire, pleaded guilty to a total of 23 charges at Basildon Crown Court.
Mrs Wood had falsely claimed Council Tax Benefit from Brentwood Borough Council.
The couple were given a 12-month custodial sentence suspended for two years at the trial that concluded on April 29.
The charges included dishonestly making false statements in order to obtain benefits, failing to notify changes of circumstances, retaining wrongful credits, fraud, as well as aiding, abetting, counselling or procuring another to commit the offence.
Mrs Wood had £16,000 in undeclared capital and also had a property in Basildon which she did not tell the authorities about.
In sentencing, the judge stressed that he took benefit fraud seriously due to its effect on public funds and that it made it more difficult for people legitimately claiming benefits but he gave credit to the pair for their guilty pleas and their age.
Rick Steels, Brentwood Borough Council’s benefits chief, said: “This was a complex case involving different locations over a number of years. It also showed the effective joint working between Brentwood, Basildon and South Kesteven Councils and the DWP.
“The council is determined to crack down on fraudulent claims, particularly as they are unfair to hardworking taxpayers and those who genuinely need the benefits system to work for them. Benefit fraud is illegal and those who cheat the system will be prosecuted and will have to pay back what they have stolen.”