A former Lambeth Council employee Catherine Devin has been prosecuted by the council for failing to declare receipt of a private pension when claiming benefits. Devin, 63 of Britannia Close, Clapham made a claim for housing benefits in early 2004, several weeks after first receiving a private pension in excess of £200 per month from Lambeth Council. She failed to declare this pension when making her claim for benefits.
The fraud came to light in 2013 when information was received from the housing benefit matching service highlighting her receipt of a private pension. Lambeth investigation officers made enquiries and established that she had failed to declare the pension for a period approaching ten years and also failed to declare the bank accounts that the pension had been paid into. This resulted in an overpayment of housing and council tax benefit of more than £18,000.
Devin, appeared at Camberwell Green Magistrates Court on 4 September 2015 and claimed to have medical issues that resulted in her forgetting to declare the pension and the accounts. She was found guilty of all charges, fined £1600 and ordered to pay a victim surcharge of £20 and costs of £1000. Lambeth Council will now also seek full recovery of the £18,000 overpaid benefits.
Cllr Paul McGlone, Deputy Leader and Cabinet member for Finance said: “Week after week our fraud investigations team bring cases like this to court. I hope it sends a very clear message to other fraudsters that we will seek justice and the highest penalties. Fraud is not a victimless crime – it’s effectively stealing from your neighbours and your community.”