South Shields man fined after wrongly claiming benefits

South Tyneside Magistrates' Court

South Tyneside Magistrates' Court

A man who was fined for continuing to claim benefits while working insisted he told Job Centre officials when he started to earn money.

George Holden, 51, claimed £830 in income support to which he was not entitled, South Tyneside Magistrates’ Court heard.

Sarah O’Neil, prosecuting, said the cash was paid out on two occasions in 2014 and 2015 – but Holden claimed he had kept the authorities informed of his circumstances.

She said: “The money was paid in two periods in 2014 and 2015 when the defendant was working.

“He has a previous conviction for a similar offence, so is well aware of his responsibility to inform the authorities of any change in circumstances.

“The overpayment will be recovered from his genuine claim.”

Holden, of Lincoln Road, South Shields, denied dishonestly failing to notify a change in circumstances.

He admitted the lesser offence of failing to notify a change in circumstances.

Kevin Smallcombe, defending, said: “Mr Holden is adamant he called the JobCentre to tell them he was beginning some work.

“He’s not the most sophisticated of men.

“It may well he didn’t get on with 0845 automated response number claimants now have to use.

“What he should have done is contact the JobCentre again when his money kept coming.”

Mr Smallcombe told the court Holden made no attempt to hide his identity.

He said: “He was working for Bell Construction on the maintenance side.

“It’s a big company, and Mr Holden gave them his correct name, address, and national insurance number.

“There is no question of him hiding his identity or working as a ghost.”

He added: “The work was on short contracts, one of three months and one of one month.

“While Mr Holden does have a criminal record, he has kept out of trouble since.

“He also has family care responsibilities.”

The magistrates ordered Holden to pay £200 in fines and costs at a rate of £5 a week.