A MAN from Hitchin has been spared jail after admitting to a �7,000 benefit fraud.

Belal Chowdhury, of Woolgrove Road, was handed an eight-week prison sentence suspended for a year and a �560 legal bill last Wednesday, after pleading guilty to benefit fraud against North Herts District Council.

He admitted to three charges of dishonestly making a false representation on the benefit form and one offence of dishonestly failing to notify NHDC of a change in circumstances affecting his benefits.

Stevenage Magistrates Court heard that Chowdhury signed forms in 2005, 2006 and 2007 in which he failed to declare that his wife was working.

The fourth offence related to his failure to advise NHDC of a change in circumstances, when his wife returned to work after taking maternity leave in 2009 and 2010.

The offences totalled an overpayment of �7,813.55.

Cllr Terry Hone, portfolio holder for finance said: “Benefit fraud is a serious crime. We will always act promptly and we will prosecute.

“Don’t be tempted to keep quiet if your circumstances change. It simply isn’t worth it.”