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Crackdown on Benefits Cheats Continues The Council prosecuted two benefit fraud offenders at Redhill Magistrates’ Court on Friday 17 February. This follows three prosecutions for similar offences last month. Case One Miss Danielle Nicholls, a 33-year-old woman of Chart Downs, Dorking, was prosecuted by MVDC and the Department for Works and Pensions (DWP) for four offences of benefit fraud. She had been receiving Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit from MVDC and Income Support from the DWP as a lone parent since August 2008. She had told the authorities that her partner had left her and their two children, and that she was not working. However, the Council became suspicious that Nicholls’ partner had returned to live at the address. An investigation began, and evidence showed he had indeed returned to the address during February 2010. Nicholls was formally interviewed under caution by investigators from MVDC and the DWP. She admitted that her partner had returned to live at her address and that she had failed to notify the appropriate authorities of this change in her circumstances. Between February 2010 and May 2011, Nicholls had fraudulently obtained £5,949 in Housing Benefit, Council Tax Benefit and Income Support to which she was not entitled. The overpayment is being recovered from Nicholls. She was sentenced to a one-year community order to complete 120 hours of unpaid work and was ordered to pay £500 in costs. Case Two Mrs Dorothy Clayton, a 71-year-old woman of Rose Hill, Dorking, was prosecuted by MVDC for three offences of benefit fraud. Clayton had been receiving Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit from MVDC since December 2003 based on her declaration that she was residing with her husband and that their savings were below £6,000. As a result of proactive government data matching, the Council became aware that Clayton held capital in further accounts that had not been declared to the authority. An investigation was conducted by MVDC benefit fraud investigators and evidence was obtained that revealed Clayton’s capital was over £40,000, well above the permitted limit of £16,000. Clayton was formally interviewed under caution, during which she stated that she didn’t believe that the money was hers but admitted that she had not been entirely honest in failing to declare the money, knowing that it would have affected her benefit entitlement. Between June 2007 and April 2011, Clayton fraudulently obtained £21,543.64 in Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit to which she was not entitled. The overpayments have been fully recovered. Clayton was fined £300 and was ordered to pay £450 costs and a £15 victim surcharge. Councillor James Friend, Leader of the Council said: “Failing to declare or hiding your true circumstances when making claims for benefit is a criminal offence and deprives those in most need of benefits. If you receive benefit from Mole Valley District Council, and either your income, savings, household composition or residency change, please inform us immediately. Failure to do so could result in an investigation, and legal action being taken against you. The Council is committed to helping people access benefits they do qualify for, whilst also delivering value more money services.”

If you suspect someone of committing benefit fraud in Mole Valley, contact the Investigation team at investigations@molevalley.gov.uk or call the confidential Fraud Hotline, 01306 879284, where you can speak to a trained investigator. All calls will be treated in a strictly confidential manner, and your identity will remain anonymous. 24

The Ashtead & Leatherhead Local  

Issue 78, Febuary 2012. Never underestimate the importance of community.