A woman who failed to declare that her husband was working when she applied for council tax support has been hit hard in the pocket.
Janet Butler, 62, of Hawk Drive, Sandy, was fined £120, ordered to pay £500 towards the prosecution costs and a £20 victim surcharge when she appeared at Bedford Magistrates’ Court on Wednesday, October 28.
Mrs Butler admitted failing to declare that her husband was working when she applied for the benefit in July 2013.
However, a subsequent investigation by Central Bedfordshire Council identified that Mr Butler was working part time as a driver for an agency – and had been for a number of years prior to his wife submitting the claim.
If Mrs Butler had declared her husband’s additional earnings, she would not have been entitled to a reduction in her council tax.
When interviewed by the council’s fraud investigator in March 2015, Mrs Butler said that she had not meant to deliberately defraud Central Bedfordshire, but acknowledged that she failed to declare her husband’s work.
She said that she had failed to do so as it was not regular income because his earnings varied from week to week.
In total, Mrs Butler was overpaid £1,830.21 in council tax support, which she now has to repay.
Councillor Richard Wenham, Executive Member for Corporate Resources, said: “Although Mrs Butler acknowledges that what she did was wrong, the fact is that by failing to declare her husband’s work, she was illegally claiming council tax support.
“Any fraud takes away money from others who genuinely need it, which is why we will always take action if we suspect any wrongdoing.”
Anyone who suspects that someone is fraudulently claiming benefits can call the council’s confidential 24-hour fraud hotline on 0300 300 5557.
Any residents who want information about paying their council tax or to find out whether they are eligible for council tax benefit can call the Money and Benefits Helpline on 0300 300 8306.