Rugby dad falsely received £40,000 in benefits - The Rugby Observer
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14th Aug, 2022

Rugby dad falsely received £40,000 in benefits

Rugby Editorial 25th Aug, 2015 Updated: 27th Oct, 2016

A FATHER dishonestly received £40,000 in benefit payments after failing to declare he and his wife had up to £50,000 of savings in a bank account.

But despite a judge at Warwick Crown Court telling him ‘that sort of benefit fraud has to be discouraged,’ Stephen Ford escaped an immediate prison sentence.

Instead he was given a nine-month sentence suspended for two years, with supervision for 12 months, and was ordered to do 150 hours of unpaid work and to pay £500 costs.

The 48 year-old of Bawnmore Road, Bilton, had pleaded guilty to four offences of failing to declare that he and his wife had capital and savings above the allowed limit for benefit.

Prosecutor Amrisha Parathalingam said the charges related to his claim for income support and, as a result of that, his receipt of housing and council tax benefits.

Since 2008 Ford had received a total of £40,060 to which he was not entitled, made up of £15,678 in income support, £19,395 in housing benefit and £4,987 in council tax payments.

He had begun claiming incapacity benefit, which does not have a limit on capital, and income support in 2008.

But when he filled out the income support claim forms he not only failed to declare the capital he had, but made assertions he had a bank balance of just £237.

Ford said his mother-in-law was living with them at the time to help care for their son, who had been diagnosed as autistic, and they did not receive any money from her.

But in fact there had been deposits, some of which were for large amounts, from her into his and his wife’s bank account over a three-year period.

And Recorder Christopher Tickle observed that at one point there was more than £50,000 in the account.

Sums of money were being paid in by Ford’s mother-in-law, and his wife was a partner in her mother’s business, said Miss Parathalingam.

When questioned about his fraud, Ford said the payments into the account were ‘gifts’ to help with the care of his son.

And he added although he may have been working during some of the period, he was only claiming expenses.

Sally Hancox, defending, said Ford’s son was ‘significantly autistic and required a great deal of assistance,’ but following the initial diagnosis the family, ‘through ill-judgement or otherwise, fought the diagnosis.’

She added: “The finances being paid into the family account it would seem went, in the main, to assist his son, even to the extent that the family used approximately £8,000 to help pay for a teaching assistant to help keep him in mainstream education.”

Sentencing Ford, Recorder Tickle told him: “You obtained from the public purse over £40,000 by falsely claiming benefit over a period of time.

“I appreciate there is a background which partly explains what you were doing, and that part of the money may have gone to help look after your son; although I am by no means convinced that all of it did by any stretch of the imagination.”

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