Benefit fraudster claimed thousands from Chichester District Council

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AN NHS worker who falsely claimed more than £7,000 in benefits has received a suspended four-week prison sentence.

Sarah Bayley, of Stephens Close, in Chichester, claimed housing and council tax benefit from Chichester District Council on the basis that she was a self-employed child minder.

However, an investigation established Bayley was employed by NHS Sussex Partnership, something she did not declare to the council.

As a result of failing to declare the employment, Bayley was overpaid £5,704.65 housing benefit and £1,593.88 council tax benefit. Bayley appeared at Worthing Magistrates’ Court on Tuesday, December 10, and pleaded guilty to two charges of dishonestly failing to notify Chichester District Council of a change in her circumstances.

She was sentenced to four weeks imprisonment – to run concurrently – for each charge and ordered to pay a victim surcharge of £80.

Chichester District Council will seek to recover all the overpaid benefit.

Councillor Tony Dignum, cabinet member for finance at Chichester District Council, said: “Benefit fraud is a very serious crime and we will continue to prosecute those people guilty of it.

“If you are in receipt of benefit payments and your circumstances change then please let us know as soon as possible.

“Our officers can then check whether this affects your benefit.

“It can be easy to remember to do this if your circumstances change for the worse, but you must also tell us if they change for the better.”

If you suspect anyone of benefit fraud you can contact a confidential 24-hour fraud hotline number on 01243 534590.