Benefit cheats must pay back more than �17k

A HUSBAND and wife must pay back nearly �17,500 after admitting making false claims to a Suffolk council for eight years.

Robert and Georgina Chambers, who were tracked down to the Isle of Wight, were each sentenced to eight months in custody suspended for two years when they appeared before magistrates.

The former health workers - who lived in Mayflower Avenue, Saxmundham, at the time of the offences - have also been electronically tagged and must abide by a 7pm to 7am daily curfew for six months.

Despite having to return the falsely claimed benefit, prosecution costs were not ordered due to the defendants’ limited means.

The couple had made the false claims for benefits to Suffolk Coastal District Council (SCDC).

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After the hearing at the Isle of Wight Magistrates Court, councillor Chris Slemmings, SCDC cabinet member for housing, said: “This case shows once again the lengths we will go to in order to bring to justice the selfish few who are claiming benefits that they are not entitled to.

“Our closer working with Government departments means that we are sharing data about people that makes it easier to spot those who have not been honest when supplying us with information.

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“While we will continue to give all the help we can to make sure that our residents are getting all the financial assistance they need and deserve, we will also be increasingly vigilant and tough on those who are attempting to cheat the rest of us.”

The Chambers’ housing benefit overpayment totalled �13,567, while they incorrectly claimed �3,814 in council tax subsidy. The claims were made between 2000 and 2008.

Robert Chambers, 59, who previously admitted eight charges, failed to declare he had an NHS occupational pension. His 45-year-old wife, who pleaded guilty to three charges, claimed benefits while working for care agencies.

They also failed to declare the bank account where some of the money was paid into.

The couple, who now live in the Isle of Wight, were Suffolk Heritage tenants.

The case was originally brought before magistrates in Ipswich, however the Chambers’ attempted to plead guilty by post.

They were then ordered to attend the court, but failed to appear.

Subsequently it was discovered the Chambers’ had moved to Newport, where SCDC pursued the case.

They were due to appear before magistrates in Newport on August 10, but failed to turn up, leading to arrest warrants being issued. The pair were arrested at 3am on August 18.

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