Benefit fraudsters prosecuted

Swanspool House, the main offices of Wellingborough Council
Swanspool House, the main offices of Wellingborough Council

Two women from Wellingborough have been prosecuted for fraudulently claiming a total of £22,500 in benefits.

In unrelated cases, both Lucinda Kalaj and Hayley Hyde failed to declare their employed partners had moved in with them and claimed thousands of pounds of income support, housing benefit and council tax benefit.

Kalaj, of Bluebell Close, fraudulently claimed more than £17,000 and Hyde, of Minevra Way, more than £7,500. Wellingborough Council launched joint investigations with the Department of Work and Pensions after information was received that in both cases the women’s partners, who had full-time jobs, had moved into their homes.

Once the information was confirmed, which in Kalaj’s case was as a result of several weeks of observation on her Wellingborough property, both women were interviewed under caution at the council offices and charged to appear at Wellingborough Magistrates Court.

The women both pleaded guilty on 19 February to two offences of failing to notify the change of circumstances to obtain income support, and failing to notify the change of circumstances to obtain housing and council tax benefit.

Kalaj was sentenced to a 12-month community order with supervision and ordered to do 40 hours unpaid work.

Hyde was sentenced to a 12-month community order with ‘woman specified work’ and was ordered to pay £100 costs.

Cllr Paul Bell, Leader of Wellingborough Council, said: “Benefit fraud puts an extra burden on the taxpayer at a time when honest people are really feeling the pinch and it’s simply not acceptable.

“Our track record at investigating and uncovering fraud is excellent and we work very hard to catch the people who commit it.

“We will continue to do everything we can to put a stop to benefit fraud and I hope that these prosecutions, along with all our other prosecutions, will be a warning to people who think they can get away with cheating the system.”

Lucinda Kalaj had fraudulently claimed £7,235.20 income support, £8,540.33 housing benefit and £1,712.16 council tax benefit, making the total overpaid £17,487.69.

Hayley Hyde had fraudulently claimed £2,243.58 income support, £4,629.82 housing benefit and £636.03 council tax benefit, making the total overpaid £7,509.43.

Wellingborough Council will pursue full recovery of the overpayments.