Stevenage benefit fraudster falsely claimed more than £9,000

PUBLISHED: 15:44 31 July 2018 | UPDATED: 15:44 31 July 2018

Stevenage Magistrates' Court, where David Chell's case was heard. Picture: Harry Hubbard

Stevenage Magistrates' Court, where David Chell's case was heard. Picture: Harry Hubbard

Archant

A benefit fraudster from Stevenage who falsely claimed more than £9,000 has been ordered to do 200 hours of unpaid community work.

David Chell, of Almonds Lane, falsely claimed £8,429.41 in housing benefit and £602.41 in council tax support between April 2016 and June last year.

The 50-year-old pleaded guilty to housing benefit fraud and council tax fraud when he appeared at Stevenage Magistrates’ Court on Wednesday last week.

The bench ordered him to pay costs and complete 200 hours of unpaid community work.

Councillor Joan Lloyd, who is responsible for resources at Stevenage Borough Council, said afterwards: “Our resources are scarce, and welfare benefits are precious public resources.

“People who try to cheat the system in this way are depriving others who really need this support.”

The court heard that in September 2017, officers from the Hertfordshire Shared Anti-Fraud Service and the Department for Work and Pensions started an investigation when it was found that Chell – who had been claiming housing benefit and reductions in his council tax from Stevenage Borough Council, due to his low income – had a bank account with more than £28,000 in it, when the capital limit was £16,000.

Enquires with the bank where the money was deposited confirmed it was held in accounts in Chell’s name and that he had held the capital since April 2016. Chell had never declared this money to Stevenage Borough Council, and continued to claim benefits until June 2017.

At an interview under caution on November 28 last year, Chell admitted that he had received a payment following an ombudsman hearing and that he realised that he should have declared this to the borough council.

The Shared Anti-Fraud Service works in partnership with Stevenage Borough Council to investigate and prosecute allegations of fraud against the many services delivered by the council.

You can report suspected fraud against any of Hertfordshire’s borough, district or county councils at hertsdirect.org/reportfraud, by emailing fraud.team@hertfordshire.gov.uk, or by calling 0300 123 4033.

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