Benefit cheat claimed £12,800

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A BENEFIT cheat who claimed nearly £13,000 has been given a suspended sentence.

Mark Hutchinson, 43, of Rowntree Avenue, York, admitted at a magistrates’ court hearing failing to notify York Council that he had started full time work while claiming housing and council tax benefit.

Selby Magistrates’ Court heard that Hutchinson started work days after applying for benefits, then let his claim incorrectly continue for over two years until the local authority’s fraud team challenged him.

Hutchinson applied for housing and council tax benefit in 2009 stating that the only income into his house was from his wife’s employment.

But he in fact began work around the time he applied for benefits and failed to declare to the council that he was in full-time employment. Hutchinson also admitted he had failed to inform the local authority that his wife’s income had increased, creating a further change to their household income.

Hutchinson was given a twelve week suspended sentence, ordered to undertake 250 hours of unpaid work with a 12-week curfew between 9pm and 5am and received a £4,000 compensation order as part payment of the full debt of over £12,800, when he appeared at the court earlier this month.

A spokesperson for Veritau, which investigates fraud on behalf of York Council, speaking after the hearing said: “No one must be allowed to cheat our welfare system that is designed to support those in genuine need.

“Those that try to falsely claim benefits that they are not entitled to will be caught by the systems the council has for detecting fraud.”

The spokesperson added: “Anyone who has concerns about someone committing benefit fraud, housing fraud or council tax fraud in York can call the council’s fraud hotline on 01904 552935 or email fraud@york.gov.uk.”