People ordered to pay back £180,000 for incorrect benefit claims

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Residents incorrectly claiming benefits have been ordered to repay more than £180,000 to East Northamptonshire Council.

In the financial year 2012-13, 48 sanctions were issued to people who had received benefits when they shouldn’t have.

Sanctions ranged from fines for smaller sums to prosecution in the more serious cases; in all cases the claimant was instructed to repay the full amount of benefit which they received in error.

Overpayments were made for a number of reasons.

In 18 cases, the claimant failed to declare they were working or had started work while claiming benefits.

Six cases were brought because the claimant did not declare that they were living with their partner.

A number of overpayments were also made because claimants failed to state that they had other assets like savings or pensions, or that their wages had increased.

As well as the fraudulent cases identified by our benefit staff, a further £208,000 of overpaid benefit was identified as a result of unintentional claimant error.

Anyone who received money incorrectly for this reason has also been instructed to repay it.

Council leader Steven North said: “This council takes benefit fraud very seriously and will prosecute those perpetrating fraud.

“Benefits are provided for the most vulnerable in society.

“If people are in financial difficulty they should seek advice from the council and we will do what we can to help people access the benefits to which they are entitled.”

If you suspect anyone of committing benefit fraud in East Northamptonshire, you can report it anonymously by calling the council’s 24/7 benefit fraud hotline on 01832 742017 or by emailing revenues@east-northamptonshire.gov.uk.

For more information about the council’s work to tackle benefit fraud visit www.east-northamptonshire.gov.uk/benefitfraud.