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Rawtenstall benefits cheat claimed £13k living in Spain
A ROSSENDALE benefits cheat claimed more than £13,300 from the public purse whilst he was living in Spain, a court heard.
Malcolm Atkinson, 42, carried on receiving income support through the Department for Work and Pensions and also housing and council tax benefits from Rossendale Council despite living long periods in Grenada with his partner and her son.
His claim had been legitimate at the start but he had said nothing to the authorities about his life in Spain.
Burnley magistrates were told how Atkinson withdrew his income support money, which was paid directly into his bank account, from cash machines in warmer climes. He persuaded his then-flatmate in Rawtenstall to pay his monthly housing benefits cheques, which were sent to their address by post, into his account whilst he was away.
He was in Grenada for more than a year on one trip and received about £10,000 from UK taxpayers.
Atkinson had never been in trouble before and was said by his solicitor to be a “nervous wreck” over the proceedings.
He has paid back £170.40 with more than £13,000 outstanding.
The defendant, of Mitchell Hey, Rochdale, admitted two counts of failing to notify a change in circumstances to the DWP, between June 23 2009 and February 16 2010 and July 25, 2010 and August 5, 2011. He also pleaded guilty to two allegations of failing to promptly notify a change in circumstances to Rossendale Council, between July 26 2010 and August 7 2011, involving housing and council tax benefits.
He was given a four-month and a curfew seven days a week, between 7pm and 7am.
Bench chairman Neil Tranmer told Atkinson: “What you have done here is basically intentional fraud."”
David Hartley, prosecuting, said he had been overpaid more than £8,000 in income support, £584 in housing benefits and £542 in council tax benefits whilst he was living abroad.
The total loss to public funds was £13,341.40.