Letchworth woman admits fraudulently claiming £17,000 in benefits and tax reductions

Tracy Guilder pleaded guilty at Stevenage Magistrates Court. Picture: Archant

Tracy Guilder pleaded guilty at Stevenage Magistrates Court. Picture: Archant - Credit: Archant

A Letchworth woman has been sentenced after admitting fraudulently claiming Housing Benefit and Council Tax Reductions totalling almost £17,000 between 2011 and 2015.

Tracy Guilder, aged 45, appeared at Stevenage Magistrates’ Court on Friday where she pleaded guilty to failing to notify changes in her circumstances and making false representations in relation to her Housing Benefit Claim, Council Tax Reduction and single person discount.

Prosecutor for North Herts District Council which pays out the benefits, James Ellis, informed the court that between November 2011 and June 2015 Guilder failed to notify the council of a change in her circumstances when she had non-dependent people living at her address.

Guilder also failed to notify the council when she started employment in 2013.

During the period the court heard that Guilder made two false representations when she completed claims stating she was living as a single adult. The total loss of public funds was £16,870.44.

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Guilder pleaded guilty at the first opportunity for which she received credit from the court.

The court highlighted the seriousness of the offences against the council and Guilder was sentenced to 16 weeks custody which is suspended for 18 months, 150 hours unpaid work and 25 days Rehabilitation Activity Requirement.

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In addition to this Guilder was ordered to pay prosecution costs of £1,317.09 and the Council has also made arrangements to recover the money claimed by her.

Councillor Julian Cunningham, NHDC’s executive member for finance and IT said “This prosecution demonstrates that this council is taking firm action to protect our local communities from those who criminally abuse the benefits system at the expense of honest taxpayers.

“Welfare Benefits are intended for people in genuine need and the council will not tolerate people who abuse the system and commit fraud. We will actively seek prosecution against those claiming benefits they are not entitled to.”

You can report suspected fraud in the strictest confidence. For more information, or to report your concerns, visit: hertfordshire.gov.uk/spotfraud, email fraud.team@hertscc.gcsx.gov.uk or call 0300 123 4033.

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