Falsifying payslips to illegally claim £2,300 in Council Tax Support has cost a Sandy woman more than that when she appeared in court.
According to her declared earnings, Katherine Roberts, of Swift Close, Sandy has been paying a lower rate of Council Tax for over two years.
However, a comparison of the figures she supplied to Central Bedfordshire Council with the details of her earnings held on the HM Revenues and Customs database revealed a significant discrepancy.
The Council’s fraud investigators subsequently established that between April 2013 and October 2015 the 43-year-old had provided 14 falsified payslips showing significantly less than what she actually earned.
After pleading guilty to 9 charges of supplying false information to the Council, Roberts was sentenced at Luton Magistrates’ Court on Thursday.
She was handed a 12 weeks’ custodial sentence suspended for 12 months, with a requirement to undertake 150 hours of unpaid work.
She was also ordered to pay full prosecution costs of £686.65 and a victim surcharge of £80.00.
Roberts also had to repay all of the Council Tax Support which she claimed illegally.
Sentencing her, the Magistrates said that they believed the offences were serious and sophisticated enough to cross a custody threshold.
They felt that a substantial degree of planning must have gone into producing false payslips.
Councillor Richard Wenham, Executive Member for Corporate Resources, said: “Council Tax Support is there to help hard-working people who need it to cope financially; it is not there to be abused in order to top up your income.
“By fraudulently claiming you rob the council and Council Tax payers of money that would otherwise have been spent on vital public services.”
If you believe that someone is illegally claiming Council Tax Support then contact the council at firstname.lastname@example.org or call the council’s confidential 24-hour telephone hotline on 0300 300 5476.