Worthing charity shop worker in court for benefit fraud

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A WORTHING charity shop manager was one of two men who fraudulently claimed benefits while having savings of more than £124,000 in nine undeclared bank accounts.

David Needham, 65, and Graham Jeffrey, both of Offington Avenue, pleaded guilty to a total of 11 counts of dishonestly making false statements to obtain council tax benefit.

Jeffrey, 57, was also working as manager of the Guild Care charity shop in Broadwater, from which he failed to declare earnings. Guild Care said this week it was unaware of the charges.

At Worthing Magistrates’ Court on Tuesday, January 11, the pair were sentenced to a 12-month community order on condition they each complete 120 hours’ unpaid work. They were also ordered to pay £1,350 prosecution costs.

At an earlier hearing, the court heard Needham and Jeffrey claimed council tax benefit in December, 2006. The award was calculated on the incapacity benefit paid to Needham and the savings held in their three declared bank accounts.

It was revised in August, 2009, to include the income from Jeffrey’s employment, but in June last year, the claim was suspended following receipt of information from HM Revenue and Customs.

Worthing Council’s corporate investigators then discovered savings in nine undeclared bank accounts, which meant they would not have qualified for the £5,400.47 council tax benefit.

Guild Care confirmed Jeffrey is still in employment, but it was now investigating.