Dad-of-five admits benefits fraud

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A DAD-of-five received more than £2,600 in income support and housing benefits despite working.

Paul Hatch failed to notify South Tyneside Council and the Department for Work of Pensions (DWP) when he found work through an employment agency.

The 45-year-old, of Wallington Grove, South Shields, had been claiming the benefits legally since 2006 due to depression and anxiety making him unable to work.

But he had decided to take up work under pressure to support his five children from two relationships and pay back debts.

South Tyneside Magistrates’ Court heard he had also taken a £1,000 loan from a loan shark – with interest meaning he had to pay back £1,500 at a rate of £150 a fortnight.

Glenda Beck, prosecuting, told the court Hatch was overpaid £1,634.32 in income support from March 2 to June 24 last year after failing to notify the DWP of his change in circumstances, and £967.70 in housing benefit from March 5 to July 2 after he didn’t notify the council of his working arrangements.

Hatch pleaded guilty to two charges of failing to promptly notify the DWP and South Tyneside Council about a change of circumstance that would affect his benefit entitlements.

Paul Kennedy, defending, said: “The situation is this claim was legitimate from the start, as he was unable to work due to suffering from depression and anxiety.

“He has had problems with drink and drugs. He fell into difficulty. He has two ex-partners and five children, and he was put under pressure to support the children.

“In Christmas 2011, he took out a loan of £1,000 from a loan shark.

“The interest meant he had to pay back £1,500 at a rate of £150 per fortnight. He missed one payment and thought that would be OK, but it clearly wasn’t and he was assaulted.

“Needs must, and despite struggling with depression and anxiety, he went to a job agency.”

The court heard that Hatch obtained contracted work doing varied hours at Nissan, and was often informed when he would be needed the day before.

Mr Kennedy added: “He started to get more hours, and it was at that point that he notified the Benefits Agency and said he thought he would have to sign off. It was this that triggered the investigation.”

Chairman of the magistrates Neil Jackson gave Hatch a conditional discharge, adding; “We have taken the whole situation into consideration.

“There are a lot of mitigating factors, and we give you a conditional discharge. It is obvious you are trying to sort yourself out, and we hope it works out for you.”

No costs were ordered, to allow Hatch time to pay back the money owed to the council and the DWP.

Twitter: @shieldsgazchris