Hitchin woman ordered to pay back thousands in benefits

A WOMAN who claimed benefits she was not entitled to has been ordered to pay the money back.

Julie Bray, of Wedmore Road, Hitchin, was told to pay back �4,485.78, and pay �255 towards North Herts District Council’s legal costs, after receiving housing benefit wrongly.

Bray, who had pleaded guilty, was handed the fine at Stevenage Magistrates Court on Monday for failing to give NHDC prompt notification that she was residing with her partner. The change in her circumstances would have had a significant impact on her housing benefit entitlement.

Cllr Terry Hone, NHDC’s portfolio holder for finance and IT, said: “We are pleased with the outcome of the prosecution and we hope this sends a clear message that fraud of any kind is not acceptable.

“Withholding information that affect benefit claims is theft and the council has a duty to ensure that benefits are only paid to those entitled to receive them.

“NHDC will investigate any information regarding possible fraud and wherever possible will prosecute offenders.”

To report cases of fraud, you can do so in person or by post anonymously. NHDC also operates a fraud hotline number on 01462 474436, or 474289 during out of hours.