Council tax fraudster prosecuted
Release date: 20 February 2017
Julie Pennington (50) - formerly of Daglingworth, Cirencester - has been prosecuted for falsely claiming over £2,170 in Council Tax Support from Cotswold District Council. Appearing at Cheltenham Magistrates Court on 12 February, she pleaded guilty to 10 offences under the Fraud Act 2006 after making false representations and failing to disclose information.
Over the course of four years Miss Pennington claimed Council Tax Support on four separate occasions; each time she made false representations by failing to report the true extent of her work, declaring she had one or two jobs, when in fact she had as many as five at one point. She managed to conceal her undeclared earnings by stating that she only held one bank account when she actually held three accounts. In addition, she failed to disclose that she had started another job on three occasions and also failed to declare extra income when she took in a lodger.
Ms Pennington’s case was heard in parallel with a case brought by the Department for Work and Pensions in relation to fraudulent Housing Benefit claims amounting to over £13,450. After the Magistrates Court found her guilty on all counts, she received a 20 weeks custodial sentence suspended for 12 months and was ordered to carry out 200 hours of unpaid work. Ms Pennington was also ordered to pay a Victim Surcharge of £150, a contribution of £200 to Cotswold District Council’s legal costs and an £85 contribution towards the Crown Prosecution Service costs. She will also have to repay in full all the money that she has received fraudulently.
Commenting on the prosecution, CDC Deputy Leader Cllr Nick Parsons said:
“Honest people realise that the benefits system is a vital safety net for those in need. Any claimant who resorts to fraud will eventually pay a heavy price because our investigators have numerous ways of detecting abuses of the system. Our experts deserve the highest praise because they help to safeguard public finances, and ensure that benefits are awarded to those in real need.
“Anyone who suspects that people might be obtaining benefits fraudulently should tip off the Council by calling 01285 623762 or by reporting their suspicions online at /residents/council-tax/benefits/report-benefit-fraud/”