Benefits cheat claimed almost £50,000 in scam

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A BENEFITS cheat has been jailed over a £50,000 claim scam.+

James Clark was paid income support, council tax and housing benefit he was not entitled to by failing to disclose he had thousands of pounds in savings.

At Newcastle Crown Court yesterday, the 54-year-old was jailed for eight months.

Judge Brian Forster QC told him: “In my judgment this was a blatantly dishonest claim.

“The state is concerned to provide benefits to those who are entitled to them.

“Those who take them and apply for them in circumstances where they are not entitled do so at a peril and the peril is a custodial sentence.”

The court heard between 2002 and 2010, Clark was paid £49,638 on the basis he had no income and only £50 in savings.

Prosecutor Susan Hirst said: “Further investigations established he and his partner had four bank accounts which were not declared.

“Those bank accounts held balances from £4,000 up to £59,000.”

Vince Ward, defending, said Clark had been entitled to some benefits before lump sums were paid in from inheritances.

Clark has made arrangements to pay back what he owes.

Mr Ward added: “This is not a case where there had been a lavish lifestyle or anything of that sort. They continued to live a basic life.”

Clark, of Oxford Avenue, Donwell, Washington, had pleaded guilty to obtaining property by deception between August 2002 and October 2010. He also admitted making false statements and failing to notify a change of circumstances.