Mum of Two Pleads Guilty to Benefit Fraud



A Dunstable woman has pleaded guilty to fraudulently obtaining almost £1,600 in Council Tax Support.

Lorraine Carter, 42, of West Street, appeared at Luton Magistrates’ Court today (7 November) where she admitted claiming a £1,595.98 reduction on her council tax to which she was not entitled.
She was prosecuted following an investigation by Central Bedfordshire Council which revealed that she had provided false documents and information for financial gain.

That was after an eagle-eyed Council Tax officer spotted that Carter had submitted paperwork claiming that her youngest child was in full-time childcare to gain financial support – but really the child was of school age.

Carter applied for Housing Benefit and Council Tax Support in January 2014, claiming that her partner had moved out and that she was now just living with her two children.
She said that she was paying for childcare for her youngest child – with such applications, the child care costs are deducted from the applicant’s income, which in turn means they will be entitled to a higher rate of Council Tax Support.

In July 2014, Carter contacted the council to say that her childcare costs had increased for the summer holidays ­– which appeared to be confirmed by the application form and three invoices she submitted.

Almost two years later, in May 2016, Carter handed in a further claim form for Housing Benefit and Council Tax Support ahead of a move to a council-owned home. This was followed a month later by her providing a completed Childcare Costs application form, along with wage slips and a nursery invoice.

Carter’s application was suspended when it was identified that her youngest child was unlikely to need full-time childcare at that point as they were of school age.

The case was referred to the Council’s Fraud Team who undertook the investigation.

The nursery which the child was said to be attending, confirmed that the last invoice it had submitted to Carter was actually in June 2014. That meant the three invoices Carter submitted in July 2014 as well as those in May 2016 were all falsified – as was the nursery manager’s signature on the Childcare Costs application form.

Carter was today sentenced to a conditional discharge of three years, ordered to pay £500 costs and a victim surcharge of £20. She will also have to repay all of the money which she fraudulently obtained.

Councillor Richard Wenham, Executive Member for Corporate Resources and Deputy Leader of the council, said: “The lengths that Carter went to fraudulently obtain financial help to which she was not entitled clearly show that this was planned and carried out over a long period of time.

“All benefits applicants are reminded at every stage of the process that the information they provide must be correct – and if not then they are liable to be prosecuted.

“This case shows that Central Bedfordshire Council takes benefit fraud incredibly seriously and I hope will act as a deterrent to others.”

If you suspect anyone of benefit fraud,  you can call our confidential 24-hour reporting line on 0300 300 5476 or email benefitfraud@centralbedfordshire.gov.uk