A Tuxford man who defrauded Bassetlaw District Council of more than £1,000 in Council Tax reduction payments has been ordered to complete a Community Order, make a contribution to prosecution costs and pay back the money he claimed in full.
Barry Wells, 38, who had applied for and was receiving Council Tax Reduction while his wife was out of work, failed to notify the Council when she found employment and continued to claim the reduction for a period of seven months between May and December 2018, accumulating a total overpayment of £1,031.76.
Following an investigation by the Council and a warrant being issued for Mr Wells’ arrest, the case was heard at Nottingham Magistrates Court on 26th May 2021 where the Court ordered Mr Wells to complete 40 hours of unpaid work by 25th May 2022, make a contribution to Prosecution Costs of £400 and an £85 Victim Surcharge which, due to mitigating circumstances, is to be paid at the rate of £40 per month.
The Council Tax Reduction Scheme is designed to assist people on low incomes to pay their Council Tax and is means tested.
Cllr Kevin Dukes, Cabinet Member for Corporate Services, said: “Council Tax Reduction is provided to families and individuals who are most in need and are on low incomes. This fund is limited and by making a false claim Mr Wells had taken money away from a family or individual who were genuinely in need of an essential discount.
“The long pursuit of this case and the sentence handed down by the Judge shows that neither the Council nor the Courts take fraud lightly and will impose tough penalties to people who attempt to cheat the system and deprive residents who are most in need.
“Let this be a clear message to anyone who is considering or currently committing fraud against the Council. We will investigate you and we will take action.”
An investigation by Council Officers into the fraud, revealed that Mrs Wells was employed from 1st May 2018 and the overpayments continued until 23rd December 2018.
Mr Wells was invited to an interview under caution in March 2019 to explain the reason for the overpayments, but contacted the Council to say that he could not attend and claimed that he had previously notified the Council to declare his wife’s employment.
The defendant was invited to submit evidence of this, so that the Council could check its records, which was never received. Mr Wells was then invited to attend a further interview in April 2019, which Mr Wells failed to attend.
A summons to attend Mansfield Magistrates Court was issued in October 2019 where Mr Wells was convicted in his absence and sentencing was adjourned to November 2019. The defendant failed to attend and a warrant was issued for his arrest.
The warrant was executed on 25th May 2021 when he was subsequently remanded in custody and appeared before Deputy District Judge Vee Monro the next day.
If you suspect someone is committing any type of fraud against the Council, including Council Tax, Tenancy, Housing Benefit or the awarding of grants, you can report it anonymously by calling 01909 533 731 or via our website at www.bassetlaw.gov.uk
Last Updated on Tuesday, October 5, 2021