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Council childminder convicted of £34,000 benefit fraud, after being found with £48,000 in 17 bank accounts (3 September 2015)

Date: 03/09/2015
Duncan Lewis, Legal News Solicitors, Council childminder convicted of £34,000 benefit fraud, after being found with £48,000 in 17 bank accounts

A childminder from Hampshire has pleaded guilty to claiming more than £34,000 in benefits fraudulently – by not declaring that she held £48,000 in saving accounts. Benefits claimants are not allowed to have more than £16,000 in savings.

The Daily Mail reports that 54-year-old Helen Batchelor was caught out when benefit officers processing her claim were notified by a government system that she had accrued a large amount of interest on her accounts. They discovered she had around £48,000 in savings spread across 17 different accounts.

Batchelor worked as a child minder for Hampshire County Council, but had claimed more than £34,000 in housing benefit and council tax benefit over a six-year period, after failing to advise Fareham Borough Council in Hampshire of her savings.

The court heard told that Batchelor had asked for a £20 council tax refund in 2008 – and had also complained to her local authority about the bedroom tax in 2013.

She had ignored information requested of her in November 2013 – but had submitted a prepared statement in April 2014, when she was interviewed by benefit officers.

The statement she submitted read that she had four undeclared bank accounts with a total balance of around £10,000 – below the £16,000 a year threshold for savings.

However, an investigation revealed further accounts with savings in them.

At Fareham Magistrates’ Court, Batchelor admitted five counts of dishonestly making a false statement to obtain a benefit from July 2007 until February 2013.

The prosecution told the court:

“Audacious is a word that I have used to describe these acts.”

Her defence lawyer said:

“In short, she expresses that she had concerns about her long-term financial security and she had accumulated savings – and has separated them from her bank account.”

The court heard that Batchelor repaid at total of £34,016.64 in full within a month – and that she had never spent the money to support an “ostentatious lifestyle”.

Batchelor will be sentenced at Portsmouth Crown Court at a later date.

After the hearing, Fareham Borough Council Leader Sean Woodward said:

“It is absolutely scandalous – beyond audacious. She committed a series of outrageous acts out of pure greed.

“We have zero tolerance of benefit cheats, because it is the public's money they are stealing – and in this case, it was clearly not a mistake, as it was a prolonged and intricate fraud.”

Duncan Lewis Benefit Fraud Solicitors

Duncan Lewis can advise at any stage of a charge involving benefit fraud, including before charges are brought and during interview under caution with the DWP or other prosecuting authority.

There are Duncan Lewis offices nationwide and Duncan Lewis is a leading provider of Legal Aid criminal defence services.

For expert legal advice on benefit fraud charges, call Duncan Lewis benefit fraud solicitors on 020 7923 4020.

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