Published: 29 October 2019
From: Council tax and benefits
A former Crawley resident has been successfully prosecuted by Crawley Borough Council for two criminal offences in relation to council tax and tenancy fraud.
Helen Reed held a council tenancy at Cumbernauld Walk, Bewbush but moved out of her property to live with her husband in Gosport in April 2018. She was also claiming a Council Tax Reduction Scheme award and housing benefit at the Bewbush address.
Council fraud investigators became aware of the situation in August 2018 and began gathering evidence to prove their case.
Mrs Reed was found to be renting accommodation in Gosport while continuing to receive benefits at her Crawley address, which was rented out to her adult daughter. Mrs Reed failed to inform the council about the change in her circumstances and that she was no longer living at Cumbernauld Walk.
Once enough evidence was obtained, Mrs Reed was interviewed under caution at Portsmouth City Council offices by fraud officers from Crawley Borough Council in March 2019, by which time the situation had been continuing for almost a year, leading to substantial council tax and housing benefit overpayments, which she was made to repay.
Additionally, her tenancy was subsequently ended and the property at Cumbernauld Walk was repossessed by the council.
Mrs Reed was summonsed to court for her actions and pleaded guilty on Thursday (24 October) to offences under the Prevention of Social Housing Fraud Act 2013 and the Council Tax Reduction Schemes Regulations 2013. She was convicted and sentenced to a 12 month conditional discharge and ordered to pay a contribution towards costs.
While benefit and tenancy fraud are very rare, when people do commit it they take money directly from local services and the members of the community who need it most. Where fraud is committed, those individuals will be found and they will be prosecuted.
Councillor Peter Lamb
Leader of the Council
Crawley Borough Council
Anyone who suspects someone of committing tenancy fraud or council tax fraud can contact the council’s Corporate Fraud Team free and in confidence 24 hours a day on 0800 634 0180 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.