St Albans man prosecuted for £16.7k benefit fraud

A hearing was held in St Albans

A hearing was held in St Albans - Credit: Archant

A St Albans man has been ordered to pay back over £16,000 after pleading guilty to benefit fraud.

Keith Thompson, 61, of Green Lane, failed to tell St Albans district council and the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) that he had married his landlady, Linda Thompson, in June 2010.

At a hearing at St Albans Magistrates’ Court last Wednesday (3) he admitted to receiving overpayments of £16,793 in housing benefit, income support, and employment and support allowance.

Apart from having to refund the overpayment, Thompson will now also have a criminal record as a result of the joint investigation between the council and DWP.

A breakdown of the benefits he received shows he was overpaid close to £12,000 in housing benefit between June 2010 and September 2013.

In addition, Thompson received an overpayment of £4,047.31 in income support and £753.90 in employment and support allowance.

Thompson was prosecuted under Section 112 of the Social Security Administration Act 1992 for failing to give prompt notification of a change in his circumstances.

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After the hearing Cllr Brian Ellis, the council’s portfolio holder for housing, said: “This prosecution shows that the council will work with the DWP to take action against benefit fraud if there is evidence to show that people have made false claims about their circumstances.

“Where this is proven and there has been an overpayment of benefit, the DWP will do everything it can to recover the sums involved.”

Benefits are affected if a person’s circumstances change - for example if a lodger claiming benefits then marries or lives with their landlady as husband and wife. Where people fail to notify the relevant authorities that their circumstances have changed, they can be prosecuted for claiming benefits dishonestly.

This type of fraud can be reported to the DWP in confidence by phoning the National Fraud hotline on 0800 854 440 or online at