Time is called on barman benefits cheat from Camber

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A barman and cleaner from Camber who held down two part-time jobs while claiming benefits has been handed a community sentence.

Allen Cowell, of Lydd Road, Camber, failed to tell the authorities he was working at a pub and a local golf club while claiming housing and Council Tax benefit.

Cowell, 55, admitted two offences of dishonestly failing to notify Rother District Council of a change in his circumstances and a further five offences of making false statements during the period of his benefit claim.

The defendant, who appeared at Hastings Magistrates’ Court following a prosecution by the district council, was ordered to carry out 200 hours of unpaid work within the next 12 months and to pay £100 costs.

Malcolm Johnston, Rother District Council executive director of resources, said: “Any employment, including part-time work, may affect people’s eligibility for benefits and this case illustrates how important it is for anyone claiming them to notify us as soon as possible if their circumstances change.

“Housing and Council Tax benefits are intended as a safety net for those in real need, not a means of extra cash for those who can support themselves, and people who cheat the system cheat the taxpayer, who ultimately has to foot the bill.”

People in receipt of housing or Council Tax benefit must notify the council if their circumstances, or those of anyone in their household, change.

Changes, including starting or changing jobs, changes in receipt of other benefits or someone moving into or leaving the household, should be notified as soon as possible and must be within one calendar month of the change.

Cllr Robin Patten, Rother District Council cabinet member for finance said: “Benefit fraud is not a victimless crime.”

More information is available online at www.rother.gov.uk/benefits.