Pensioner in £9,000 benefit fraud

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A Chorley pensioner has been fined £600 after pleading guilty to dishonestly obtaining over £9,000 in benefits.

Barbara Ashcroft, 66, of Barnside, Euxton, pleaded guilty to claiming the extra cash in housing and council tax benefits as well as guaranteed pension credits back in 2005.

In the prosecution brought by Chorley Council and the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) Leyland magistrates were told that the case came to light in 2009 following a national data matching exercise where Housing and council tax benefit data was matched with data held by other government organisations. Chorley Council received information from this exercise that Ashcroft was receiving an injury benefit form the NHS.

The court heard that when further enquiries were made by the council about the NHS payments it soon became clear that Ashcroft also had several undeclared bank accounts containing a substantial amount of capital.

Magistrates were told that the claims for benefit she had submitted in 2005 were shown to be false and for the duration of her benefit claims she had capital in excess of £16,000 - the capital limit for housing benefit and council tax benefit.

Ashcroft’s claim for housing benefit and council tax benefit was reviewed by the Council in February 2008 but she still did not take the opportunity to correct her claim and declare the full extent of her income and capital.

Taking into account her financial circumstances Leyland Magistrates told Ashcroft to make an immediate payment of the fine and costs and suggested that she repay the £3743.09 still owing to the DWP within seven days.

Ashcroft has already repaid the overpaid housing benefit and council tax benefit in full.