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Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Lake District man given suspended jail term for £14,000 benefit fraud in Cumbria

AN alcoholic gambling addict has been given a suspended jail term for a £14,000 benefit fraud in Cumbria.

South Lakeland District Council prosecuted Martin Lord, 46, of Laurel Gardens, Kendal, for falsely claiming £14,224.77 in housing and council tax benefit – despite being self-employed.

Lord was given a 12 week custodial sentence suspended over two years. He was also ordered to carry out 240 hours of unpaid work to be carried out over the next 12 months.

Lord was also ordered to pay costs of £300 and an £80 victim surcharge.

The case is part of the council’s zero tolerance approach to benefit fraudsters.

Alan Raven, SLDC’s revenues and benefits manager, said: “People need to be aware that the council will always prosecute where deliberate fraud is uncovered.

“The council has a responsibility to protect public funds and SLDC will continue to take a tough stance on any type of benefit fraud.

“The vast majority of people are law abiding council tax payers and claim benefit they are entitled to correctly. It is only fair that we take action when benefit is claimed fraudulently.”

He added: “If people are having problems understanding the benefit system, they should talk to the council straight away or speak to one of the advice agencies and get help as quickly as possible.”

People caught cheating the benefit system can be fined up to £5,000 per offence and sentenced to a maximum of six months imprisonment or both in the Magistrates Court.

If the case is referred to Crown Court the penalties are even more severe with the maximum penalty an unlimited fine or up to seven years imprisonment or both.

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