There is no doubt that the topic of benefit fraud is one that many people have an opinion on. In the run up to the General Election of 2015, it is a hot topic that got a lot of air time. There are a wide range of views and opinions on benefit fraud and one of the biggest problems in discussing the matter is that there are many different types of people committing benefit fraud. There are also many different types of benefit fraud and it is difficult to have a conversation when different people are coming at the discussion point from a different viewpoint.
There will be some people who see people that haven’t worked a day in their life making claims and falsifying their stories in an attempt to earn a living. This is obviously wrong and it is something that needs to be stamped out. However, not every type of benefit fraud is cut and dried. There are many times when people can be ignorant, which is ultimately no excuse, but of course, if someone doesn’t look to set out to commit fraud, should they be punished.
There is also the fact that people’s circumstances can change and failing to notify the relevant authorities of these changes, resulting in earning more money than you should receive. This is fraud and it should be punished.
There is also the fact that some people will just blatantly lie to get money that they are not entitled to.
This is definitely the sort of crime that should be cracked down on and this is why many people across the United Kingdom will appreciate the fact that a fraudster of this nature has been sent to jail. Charles Lwanga, 44 and hailing from South Croydon, told lies about how he was responsible for looking after his son. This earned him a total of £45,000 in benefits but his son was actually living ourselves. This isn’t something that you can do by accident or find that the money ended up in your account by mistakes, this was a clear attempt to defraud the system and earn a lot of money that wasn’t rightfully yours in the first place.
Over £45,000 is a Big haul in Benefit Fraud
Between December of 2008 and July of 2013, Lwanga was able to claim a total of £45,175.46 in council tax and housing benefit. He was eventually caught out by the Anti-Fraud team of Croydon Council. The team ran a data matching exercise and it uncovered discrepancies in the claims that Lwanga was making and when he appeared at Croydon Crown Court, he was sentenced to jail for a period of 8 months. This was after admitting to four separate counts of committing fraud by dishonesty.
After the case, Simon Hall, a councillor and a cabinet minister for Finance and Treasury, said; “Lwanga’s custodial sentence should serve as a deterrent to others who are thinking of stealing from the public purse. That tiny minority of benefit claimants who deliberately lie when claiming benefits should realise that fraud is a serious offence, and that they will be punished in the courts.”
A Prison Sentence is the Sort of Punishment People Want to See
There is no doubt that the prison sentence will be well received and it has to be hoped that the deterrent is clear for all to see. This is obviously a very blatant crime. When you claim money on behalf of someone who isn’t even in the country, you are obviously pushing the extremes of what can be believed and what can be justified. No doubt there would have been elements to the claim that may have rung true or which could have been backed up but the sustained nature of the fraudulent activity means that this was always the sort of crime that was going to be punished in a notable manner.
Of course, there is a lot to be said for the role of a defence solicitor in this style of case. Even when the apparent facts of the case seem so open and shut, there is a need to provide a robust and resolute defence of a client. It is still possible to minimise the punishment handed out in this form of case, and this is definitely the sort of work that the defence team would have focused on. Some people would suggest that the sentence wasn’t long enough but if that was the case, this is where a defence team has earned their money.
With benefit fraud being focused on more, it is likely that there will be many more cases going to court and the services of a reliable and effective defence solicitor will be crucial.
Andrew Reilly is a freelance writer with a focus on news stories and consumer interest articles. He has been writing professionally for 9 years but has been writing for as long as he can care to remember. When Andrew isn’t sat behind a laptop or researching a story, he will be found watching a gig or a game of football.