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Two sentenced after admitting council tax reduction fraud

Barrow-in-Furness Magistrates Court

Two people have been sentenced after admitting fraudulently claiming council tax reduction.

In two separate cases, both had been charged with claiming the reduction while failing to disclose excess capital in undeclared bank accounts.

Emily Postlethwaite, 59, of Greenwood, Kendal, fraudulently claimed £4,219.69 between November 2013 and August 2018 when she had £22,000 in a bank account.

James Stafford Garside, 65, of Stricklandgate, Kendal, fraudulently claimed £2,945.29 between April 2013 and July 2015, when he had at times £50,000 in a bank account.

At Barrow Magistrates’ Court on Monday, Postlethwaite pleaded guilty and was ordered to complete 80 hours of unpaid work, pay £736 costs and an £85 victim surcharge. Garside pleaded guilty and was fined £500. He was also ordered to pay £744 costs and a £30 victim surcharge.

The court was told that investigations had been undertaken after allegations raised suspicions about their wrongdoing.

Katie Booth, South Lakeland District Council’s corporate anti-fraud officer, who conducted the investigation, said: “Council tax reductions are there for people who need it. These two people concealed their assets deliberately for their own gain and their actions have a wider impact.

“These benefits are provided for through public funds, paid for by council tax payers, to support the most vulnerable members of our community and fraud of this kind impacts on the amount of council tax residents have to pay.”

The Local Council Tax Reduction Scheme, which has been in place since 2013, offers up to a 100% reduction for all eligible residents, supporting people on benefits or low incomes. Last year it helped 4,734 households, many of them pensioners.

South Lakeland District Council works with more than 100 organisations and key partners to find ways of reducing financial hardship for those in genuine need and alleviate the impact of poverty.

More details about the range of support available can be found on the SLDC website at www.southlakeland.gov.uk.

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