A 69-year-old Lowestoft man has been handed a suspended prison sentence and fined £25,000 for fraudulently claiming benefits.
Patrick Sutcliffe, of Lawson Court, appeared for sentencing at Ipswich Crown Court on 12 April 2023, having previously pleaded guilty to nine counts of fraud by false representation before magistrates in February.
Sutcliffe admitted falsely declaring capital of less than £16,000 when completing claims for housing benefit or reduced council tax in March 2016, March 2017, November 2018 and July 2019, and for Universal Credit in December 2016.
In total, Sutcliffe was overpaid £10,467.87 in Universal Credit, £7,819.41 in housing benefit and £2,788.66 in council tax reduction between March 2016 and October 2021.
He was handed a 10-month prison sentence, suspended for 18 months, along with 35 days’ rehabilitation activity requirement, fined £25,000, and ordered to pay £340 in prosecution costs and a £100 statutory court surcharge. He was told that failure to pay the fine within 28 days would result in 12 months’ imprisonment.
The prosecution was jointly brought by the Department for Work and Pensions and East Suffolk Council.
An East Suffolk Council spokesperson said: “Anyone assessed as having savings and other capital worth less than £16,000 can claim Universal Credit and may also be entitled to housing benefit and a reduction in council tax. Mr Sutcliffe claimed these benefits while failing to declare capital in excess of £100,000.
“We welcome this sentence and hope it serves as a reminder of the importance of the system being used properly and fairly.”