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Sunday, 31 May 2015

Man who claimed benefits while working ends up worse off


A man is facing a bill for £7,800 after he carried on claiming benefits for two years despite finding work.

Gary Hockenhull, 41, of Windsor Close, Middlewich, received £7,205.54 in Housing Benefit and Council Tax support that he was not entitled to.

When he began claiming, Hockenhull said he was out of work and that his family was on a low income. But when he found a job in November 2011, he failed to tell the authorities.

He falsely claimed benefits whilst working for more than two years until investigators from Cheshire East Council’s benefit fraud team discovered that he had started work and that his household income had increased.

Hockenhull admitted two charges of failing to promptly report a change in his circumstances that he knew would affect his entitlement.

At South and East Cheshire Magistrates’ Court on Wednesday, May 27, he was sentenced to a two-month curfew between the hours of 8.00pm and 6.00am. Magistrates ordered him to pay £600 costs and a £60 victim surcharge.

Hockenhull will also have to repay in full all the benefits that he fraudulently received.

The prosecution was brought by Cheshire East Council’s legal team.

Les Gilbert, Cheshire East Council’s Cabinet member for communities, said: “It is a big mistake for fraudsters to think they can get away with claiming benefits they are not entitled to.

“They risk ending up with a criminal conviction for a serious offence of dishonesty and being ordered to repay the money they have falsely claimed.

“We have a zero-tolerance policy towards benefit fraud because we are determined to ensure that the benefits system works for people who really need help.”

Residents can report people they suspect of benefit fraud by calling free on the confidential fraud hotline number 0800 389 2787. There is no need to give a name and calls are treated in the strictest confidence.

Alternatively, suspected fraud can be reported through the Council’s website at www.cheshireeast.gov.uk

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