A former mine worker dug himself in a financial hole when he pocketed thousands of pounds worth of benefits after staying tight-lipped over a secret pension pot for a decade.
Richard Halliday was overpaid housing benefit and council tax benefits to the tune of £14,230 over a ten-year-period after failing to tell council chiefs he was in receipt of a Mineworkers Pension worth £50 a week.
He was not getting rich off this.
The 56-year-old stayed silent over a bank account the pension cash was being paid into – even when he received a home visit from South Tyneside Council to discuss his benefit payments.
Halliday, of Ebor Street, South Shields, admitted two counts of dishonestly making a false statement to obtain a benefit at South Tyneside Magistrates’ Court.
He was slapped with a community order and made to complete unpaid work for his offences.
The fraud started in October 2004 before the deceit was finally unearthed by council investigators in November last year.
The court heard Halliday had given details of his pension arrangement in a benefit claim in 2003 which was cancelled when he found work.
But he did not provided the details on a subsequently claim.
Glenda Beck, prosecuting, said: “He was in receipt of housing benefit and council tax benefit he was not entitled to from October 8 2004 until November 17, 2014. The total overpayment was £14,230.56.
“It was paid on the grounds of his low income and that he had no savings and on the basis he would notify the council of any change in his circumstances.
“When interviewed, he said he had disclosed the private pension and bank account in a previous benefit claim that was cancelled due to him finding work.”
He added: “He assumed the council would still have that information. He admitted it was his responsibility to keep the council aware of any changes in his circumstances.”
David Forrester, defending, said Halliday had not “got rich” off his wrongful claim and said he had never been before the courts before.
Mr Forrester said: “There has never been any dispute that he was receiving money to which he was not entitled.
“The overpayment amounted to only about £27 a week – but was over a long period of time. He didn’t disclose a pit pension of about £50 a week.
“He was not getting rich off this.”
He added: “This is not something he takes lightly and he has had a tremendous amount of stress over this.
“In his long time on earth he has never been to court before.”
Magistrates were told Halliday is paying back the overpaid benefits at a rate of £60 a month – with more than £13,800 still to be paid back.
Halliday was given a 12-month community order and must complete 100 hours of unpaid work, as well as pay £85 prosecution costs and a £60 victim surcharge.