Council crack down on benefit fraud

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THE work of a council fraud team and the department of work and pensions has helped seal the convictions of two Cumbernauld residents who claimed benefits they were not entitled to.

The man and woman, who have both appeared at Airdrie Sheriff Court recently, both received criminal records after the claim bill totalled more than £18,500.

The man was fined £700 after being found to have illegally claimed £4,546.57 in council tax, housing benefit and jobseekers’ allowance by failing to declare that he was working.

The woman was sentenced to 240 hours community service after being found guilty of claiming £13,958.90 in council tax and jobseekers allowance she wasn’t entitled to.

The woman also failed to declare she was living with a partner who was in full time employment.

The convictions came about because of joint investigations carried out by North Lanarkshire Council’s benefit fraud team and the department of work and pensions.

Andrew McLean, sanctions and fraud manager at NLC, said: “We are aware of the difficulties caused by the current economic climate however; people shouldn’t consider benefit fraud as a way out of their financial difficulties.

“We will pursue those making false claims through the courts with our fraud team following up on any information we receive.”

Finance convener Bob Burrows added: “I want to assure our residents that while we are keen to help all those who are entitled to benefits, we are also focused on preventing fraudulent claims.

“If you have information on suspected fraud, call the confidential benefit hotline on 0800 953 0400 and help us fight fraud in our area.”