Benefit cheats risk a prison sentence says Pett councillor

Pett Rother councillor Robin Patten has warned benefit cheats that they could face jail.

He spoke out after a couple from Bexhill lied to swindle more than £113,000 from Rother District Council.

Mother-of-two Christine Paulizky, 54, fraudulently claimed Housing and Council Tax benefit and Income Support by failing to tell the authorities she was living with her partner, Keith Lingham.

Meanwhile Lingham, 52, falsified tenancy agreements for the bungalow they shared in Bexhill, including using a false name, to conceal their relationship from the authorities.

Paulizky and Lingham were handed 15 month and 18 month jail terms respectively by a judge at Lewes Crown Court on Thursday (18) having been convicted by a jury at the same court in May.

They were brought to justice following a joint investigation by Rother District Council and the Department for Work and Pensions.

Cllr Robin Patten, Rother District Council cabinet member for finance and value for money, said: “This was an elaborate and long-running attempt by the defendants to claim money they were not entitled to.

“Benefits are intended as a safety net to help those in real need and the vast majority of claimants who play by the rules will be shocked by the extent of this deception.

“Benefit fraud is not a victimless crime and at a time when many people are having to tighten their belts, the taxpayer ultimately has to foot, what was in this case, a very large bill.

“The jail sentences given by the judge send out a very strong message that benefit fraudsters will be caught and dealt with.”

By failing to notify the fact they were living together, Paulizky received £113,032.67 in benefits she was not entitled to, including £46,730 in Housing Benefit and £7,115.88 in Council Tax Benefit.