Published on 28th August 2013

Bundles of 5 pound notes

A Cheltenham claimant has been given a suspended jail term following her conviction for benefit fraud.

Sylvia Halford claimed that she lived alone in her flat and claimed income support, housing benefit and council tax benefit as she didn’t work.

She was caught following a review of single person discount claims in 2012.  A 25% discount can be claimed off council tax bills if a person is the sole adult occupier of a property. The situation is regularly checked to pick up changes.

The review in 2012 highlighted another name at the address and the subsequent investigation resulted in Ms Halford admitting that she had dishonestly claimed benefits from Cheltenham Borough Council and the Department for Work & Pensions totalling in excess of £36,000.  She was given two suspended sentences of 3 months each, and ordered to carry out 150 hours of unpaid work as well as paying back the £36,000 and covering council’s costs.

Mark Sheldon, director of resources said: “Fraudulently claiming benefits is a criminal offence. We have vigorous systems in place to make sure that people are claiming fairly and honestly; as in this case, we will take action against those who break the law.”

The council tax review for 2013 is currently underway – if you have any queries about your eligibility please ring the council tax helpline on 01242 264161.  It is a criminal offence to claim a discount to which you are not entitled.

To report benefit fraud please ring 01242 264215.  This is a 24 hour number on which you can leave details regarding any alleged fraud.

For press enquiries, contact:
Katie Sandey, communications team leader, telephone 01242 775050, email [email protected]