Fraud that is connected anyway with housing such as benefits fraud, or obtaining housing by deception appears to be high on the agenda of councils, housing associations and social security, they appear to be going to great lengths to investegate people who are abusing the system in such a way.
The punishment however appears to fall well short of what the particular crime deserves, on a regular basis articles appear online or in local papers whereby investegations have taken place and housing fraud has been proven, and lets not forget how much this costs the departments involved in such cases, punishments certainly appear too weak for those that have been found guilty, infact many would say that the punishments do nothing to deter such criminals.
It was reported in the Watford Observer that a couple from South Oxhey have been sentenced to jail after fraudulently claiming housing and council tax benefits, Mr Abdul Diallo and Mrs Kadiatou Diallo made 21 false claims between them.
The council’s benefits team calculated Mr and Mrs Diallo had been overpaid housing benefit and council tax benefit between November 14, 2004 and June 9, 2014 amounting to £46,814.41 as a result of their fraud.
They both received custodial sentences suspended for 18 months, they were both fined a total of £10,500, Mr Diallo must complete 250 hrs of unpaid work.
Councillor Matthew Bedford, the council’s lead member for resources, said: “Public money is intended to fund services to the community and we will not hesitate to prosecute people who have committed benefit fraud.
According to my sums, the couple were in net receipt of £36,314.41, for that Mr Diallo will have to do 250 hrs “unpaid work”, the prison sentence is suspended so they are free to get on with their life. Unless I have missed something £36,314.41 is the benefit for 250 hrs work, not bad pay if you can get it, that is based on the fact that there is no mention of the benefit of £46,814.41 having to be repaid.
This also does not take into account the time and expense of bringing these offenders to court, all the investegation work that has to take place to get the evidence for a conviction, this is all tax payers money being used up which should be going elsewhere in the community. This type of case is appearing in the press day after day and only stronger punishments will deter such offenders.