Winchester City Council clamps down on benefit fraud

Press Release: 17/03/2008

Winchester City Council has been taking action against those who have committed benefit fraud within the Winchester locality. Since April 2007, 13 people have been successfully prosecuted, 8 have received a formal caution and 9 have received a fine.

What benefit fraudsters don't realise is that Fraud investigators have a range of far-reaching powers to help them detect those who steal from taxpayers. These powers include surveillance of suspected fraudsters, authority to check their savings and bank accounts and authority to check for inconsistencies on utility bills. Fraud Investigators also work very closely with police, local authorities, courts, and the Department of Work and Pensions.

Recently, a married couple were successfully prosecuted for dishonestly failing to declare many changes in circumstances and making false declarations over a 2 year period. Investigators from Winchester City Council and the Department of Work and Pensions found that the couple had been working for at least 4 different employers over the past 2 years, none of these employments had been declared on claims made for Housing Benefit, Council Tax Benefit and Job Seekers Allowance.

As a result of their dishonesty, they were overpaid in excess of £11,000 which they will have to repay in full. They were also both sentenced to a community punishment order with a requirement to do 150 hours unpaid work each. They were also told to pay £100 each towards the investigation costs.

Winchester City Council’s Benefits Manager, Jane Petty, is pleased about the rising numbers of benefit thieves being caught. She said: "The case highlighted here is a blatant example of people who receive wages through employment, but due to sheer greed have made a conscious decision to steal tax-payers money".

If you know someone who is committing benefit fraud, ring the fraud hotline on 01962 848 173 during 9am to 5pm. Alternatively, you can ring 01962 848 306 at any time to leave an anonymous message.

We will investigate any reported fraud and, if we have sufficient evidence, we will take legal action against the culprit.