Suspended sentence for pensioner who claimed benefits while hiding savings in separate account
- Credit: Kirsty O'Connor/PA
A 66-year-old Suffolk man has apologised for continuing to claim benefits despite having almost £18,000 in savings.
Nigel Scott appeared at Suffolk Magistrates' Court on Thursday to admit dishonestly making a false statement to obtain a benefit and failing to notify the state about a change of circumstances.
As a result, Scott, of Chapel Lane, Wickham Market, received an overpayment of £4,180 in Jobseeker's Allowance and £2,220.12 in housing benefit.
When he applied for benefits in December 2014, Scott declared savings of less than the lower capital limit of £6,000 for Jobseeker's Allowance and £4,000 for housing benefit, the court heard.
But, according to prosecutor Mark Milkovics, Scott actually had savings of between £12,000 and £18,000 while still claiming benefits up to May 2019.
When asked if he had any savings in August 2015, Scott replied by declaring £4,000, but failed to notify the Department for Work and Pensions of inheritance money held in a Yorkshire Building Society account.
Mr Milkovics said that, by keeping the money in a separate account, Scott had clearly planned the deception.
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Scott told the court: "I made a mistake. It was just an oversight.
"My mother died at the end of June 2014 and I eventually got £7,000 from the will, which I put into the Yorkshire because I didn't intend on touching it.
"The other money was what I had left after being made bankrupt – so I actually had about £10,500.
"When I realised what I'd done, I didn't know how to put it right. I tried to fudge it."
Scott said the government had been deducting weekly payments from his current housing benefit claim – registered at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic.
"Only when I retired did they decide to bring it to court," he added.
"I'm deeply sorry and ashamed.
"I understand I may have to serve some time. If I go to prison, I'll lose my state pension and won't be able to pay the rent."
Scott was handed a 10-week prison sentence, suspended for 18 months, and ordered to pay a contribution to the cost of prosecution.