Dunstable mum caught out on benefits fraud

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A Dunstable woman has pleaded guilty to fraudulently obtaining almost £1,600 in Council Tax Support.

Lorraine Carter, 42, of West Street, appeared at Luton Magistrates’ Court on November 7 where she admitted claiming a £1,595.98 reduction on her council tax to which she was not entitled.

An eagle-eyed Central Bedfordshire Council tax officer spotted that Carter had submitted paperwork claiming that her youngest child was in full-time childcare to gain financial support – but really the child was of school age.

Carter applied for housing benefit and council tax support in January 2014, claiming that her partner had moved out and that she was now just living with her two children.

She said that she was paying for childcare for her youngest child – with such applications, the child care costs are deducted from the applicant’s income, which in turn means they will be entitled to a higher rate of Council Tax Support.

In July 2014, Carter contacted the council to say that her childcare costs had increased for the summer holidays ­– and she submitted an application form and three invoices.

Almost two years later, in May 2016, Carter handed in a further claim form for housing benefit and council tax support ahead of a move to a council-owned home.

This was followed a month later by her providing a completed childcare costs application form, along with wage slips and a nursery invoice.

Carter’s application was suspended when it was identified that her youngest child was of school age.

The case was referred to the Council’s Fraud Team who undertook the investigation.

Carter was sentenced to a conditional discharge of three years, ordered to pay £500 costs and a victim surcharge of £20.

She will also have to repay all of the money which she fraudulently obtained.

Councillor Richard Wenham, Executive Member for Corporate Resources and Deputy Leader of the council, said: “The lengths that Carter went to fraudulently obtain financial help to which she was not entitled clearly show that this was planned and carried out over a long period of time.”