Benefit fraudster, 72, fined after wrongly claiming £15k

Uttlesford District Council headquarters on London Road, Saffron Walden.

Uttlesford District Council headquarters on London Road, Saffron Walden. - Credit: Archant

A pensioner fraudulently claimed more than £15,000 in council and housing tax benefits after failing to disclose that he had inherited £63,000 from his mother, a court has heard.

Uttlesford District Council brought a prosecution against John Kline for fraudulently claiming Housing Benefit, Council Tax Benefit, and Council Tax Relief – totalling £15,388.75 – over a three-year period.

Mr Kline, 72, of Barker’s Mead, Little Hallingbury, attended Chelmsford Magistrates Court on January 5 but chose not to remain for the duration of the proceedings.

The magistrates were informed that he had requested an adjournment, but decided to proceed in his absence. He was found guilty and ordered to pay £1,869.10 in fines, victim surcharge, and costs.

The charges were one of failing to notify a change of circumstances while in receipt of benefit, namely that he had received a substantial inheritance, and one of failing to declare the bank account where the inheritance had been placed when he completed the renewal form for the continuation of his benefit.

Between March 21, 2011 and June 29, 2014, Mr Kline claimed Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit, but failed to declare a savings account with a balance of over £63,000.

The council’s Housing Benefit Matching Service highlighted the discrepancy and an investigation by the authority’s Enforcement Section began in April 2014.

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Details of his accounts were provided by his bank following a request from the council, showing the undeclared account was opened in March 2011.

In May 2012, a benefit review form was sent to Mr Kline, and his returned declaration made no mention of the new account.

Cllr Robert Chambers, cabinet member for finance, said: “I am pleased to see that a fraudulent claim has been exposed, renewing the warning to others who may try and abuse the system that we will find them and prosecute them.

“They are cheating the system and genuine claimants, and it is only right that they are punished as a result.”