Benefit cheat steals thousands

By Connie Osborne Wednesday 15 January 2014 Updated: 15/01 17:24

A GREENLANDS benefit cheat who falsely claimed more than £15,000 will have to complete 200 hours of community service.

Leah Phillips, of Hedgerow Close, was given the hours as part of a 12 month community order at Redditch Magistrates' Court on Wednesday (January 8).

The 45-year-old pleaded guilty to falsely claiming income support, housing benefit and council tax benefit totalling £15,741.

The court heard how she failed to declare she was living with her partner between December 2011 and March 2013 after Redditch Borough Council received an anonymous tip-off.

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) joined the investigation to uncover the full extent of her offending.

She was ordered to pay £85 towards prosecution costs and a £60 victim surcharge, while the overpaid benefits were being recovered by the council and DWP.

A spokeswoman for Redditch Borough Council said: "Prosecutions such as this one show just how helpful information given by local people can be in the fight against benefit fraud.

"It also once again demonstrates the importance of declaring true circumstances when claiming benefit and reporting any changes as they take place. Failure to do so will result in having to repay any benefit claimed incorrectly, may also lead to a

criminal record and could have an impact on future claims."

Anybody wanting to report a suspicion of benefit fraud should e-mail details to benefitsfraud@redditchbc.gov.uk or call the investigation team on 01527 534011.

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