Bassetlaw council tax cheat gets community order for fraud

A man who defrauded Bassetlaw District Council of more than £1,000 in council tax reduction payments has been sentenced.

By Kirsty Hamilton
Wednesday, 11th August 2021, 9:03 am

Barry Wells, aged 38, from Tuxford, had applied for and was receiving council tax reduction while his wife was out of work but failed to notify the local authority when she found employment.

He continued to claim the reduction for seven months between May and December 2018, and accumulated a total overpayment of £1,031.76.

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Barry Wells, aged 38, from Tuxford, defrauded Bassetlaw District Council out of more than £1,000.

Wells was ordered to complete 40 hours of unpaid work when the case was heard at Nottingham Magistrates Court

He must also pay back the money in full.

He was also ordered to make a contribution to prosecution costs of £400 and an £85 victim surcharge.

The reduction scheme is designed to assist people on low incomes to pay their council tax, and is means tested.

Councillor Kevin Dukes, cabinet member for corporate services, said: “Council tax reduction is provided to families and individuals who are most in need and are on low incomes.

"This fund is limited and by making a false claim Mr Wells had taken money away from a family or individual who were genuinely in need of an essential discount.

“The long pursuit of this case and the sentence handed down by the judge shows that neither the council nor the courts take fraud lightly and will impose tough penalties to people who attempt to cheat the system and deprive residents who are most in need.

“Let this be a clear message to anyone who is considering or currently committing fraud against the council. We will investigate you and we will take action.”

An investigation by council officers into the fraud, revealed that Mrs Wells was employed from May 1 2018 and the overpayments continued until December 23 2018.

Wells was invited to an interview under caution in March 2019 to explain the reason for the overpayments, but contacted the council to say that he could not attend and claimed that he had previously notified the local authority to declare his wife’s employment.

He was invited to submit evidence, so the council could check its records, which was never received.

A summons to attend Mansfield Magistrates Court was issued in October 2019 where Wells was convicted in his absence and sentencing was adjourned to November 2019. The defendant failed to attend and a warrant was issued for his arrest.