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Sunday 25 December 2011

Cheshire East cracks down on benefits cheat


A Cheshire East benefits cheat has been fined after he was found guilty of fraudulently claiming more than £1,500.

James Campbell, 30, of Havannah Street, Congleton, failed to appear before Macclesfield Magistrates Court on November 20. He was found guilty in his absence of one count of benefit fraud.  A warrant with bail was issued and he attended Crewe Magistrates’ Court on December 16, 2011.

The overpayment of £1,695.71 was in relation to an offence committed against Cheshire East Council between April 19, 2010 and October 17, 2010.

Campbell fraudulently claimed housing benefit and council tax benefit. His Jobseekers’ Allowance ceased in April 2010 and he had started work at the Cheshire Tavern, in Congleton, which he failed to declare to the Council. 

Campbell was invited to attend several interviews under caution with investigators to discuss this matter but he failed to attend. The Council had no alternative but to pass the matter to its prosecution team.

The overpayment totalled £1,447.94 housing benefit and £2,47.77 Council Tax benefit.

Councillor David Brown, Cheshire East Cabinet member with responsibility for performance and capacity, said: “Cheshire East Council does not tolerate people cheating honest taxpayers. Such fraudsters will be rigorously pursued through the courts and brought to justice.

“Benefit fraud robs hard-working communities of vital resources needed to provide much-needed public services. Such criminal acts rob councils and the Government of hard-pressed funds that could be spent helping the most vulnerable and needy people in our communities.

“The Council has a moral duty to honest taxpayers to take robust action against a selfish minority of people who try to dodge their responsibilities and defraud the public purse.”

Mr Campbell was fined £180 by magistrates. The Council was awarded £200 court costs and a £15 victim surcharge.  A Compensation Order for £1695.71 was imposed by the court, which Campbell must repay at £50 per week.

Campbell now lives in Bourton-on-the-Water, Gloucestershire.

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