20 December 2011

Woman who saved benefits is convicted of fraud

A story from Plymouth, England -
A mentally-ill woman who saved some of her benefits as a nest-egg for her old age has been convicted of benefit fraud. Had Pauline Ford, 58, spent the money on anything at all, she would have committed no offence. But because she lived frugally and saved for a rainy day, while continuing to claim benefits, she has been hit with a double punishment. She has been forced to repay more than £28,000 and received a suspended prison sentence.

Jo Martin, prosecuting, told Plymouth Crown Court that prior to 2005, Ford received incapacity benefit and disabled living allowance, neither of which were means-tested, and housing and council tax benefits, which were. In 2005, she applied for housing and council tax benefits without declaring that she had saved around £15,000-£16,000 from her previous benefits. In 2008, she applied for income support – another means-tested benefit – but failed to declare that she had by now saved £21,000, which she had invested in a Nationwide fixed bond.

...claimants were entitled to hold savings of £3,000 to £16,000, but received lower benefits on a sliding scale.

Ali Rafati, for Ford, said his client had a learning disability and had been admitted to mental health units for up to three months at a time. He said: "Miss Ford became very worried about how she would cope in old age. "For many years she has been living on a shoestring in a rusty mobile home with her 15 year-old dog, saving money for her old age...

Mr Rafati added: "She has now paid back £6,000 more than she saved.
This story presents a variety of social, economic, and moral considerations to ponder.  I'll offer it without comment.  Some additional details at the Plymouth Herald, via Nothing To Do With Arbroath.


  1. That is horrible. If her savings came from a job that she held but didnt admit to then I could see them punishing her and making her pay back the funds.

  2. The benefit system here is very strange in that regard. I talked to an elderly gentlemen not too long ago, who told me a similar story.

    He cannot live on his war pension so needs a small top up to live off. However what the benefits people want to give him is actually a substantial amount - far more than he needs. They won't let him give some back or take less, and if he keeps the remainder then the next month he is no longer is eligible for benefits as he has some savings and then must re-apply when the savings run out. Given he's nearly blind and can't walk the application process is very difficult for him. He really doesn't want to waste the money - but feels he has no choice to do so. The result? he has high speed broadband but no computer, every tv channel known to man which he doesn't watch and a house full of things he doesn't want.

    All that said - I think it's quite right that people with large amounts of savings shouldn't be allowed to claim benefits. I certainly wouldn't want to see a millionaire who never works being giving them for example. All about striking the right balance I guess,

  3. Could they just keep it in cash? Or give it directly to those who need it more (in the case of the elderly man)?

    It's very stupid to force people to be wasteful with benefit money.

  4. Should come as no surprise, it's England after all.

  5. This is why western civilzation is doomed.... We reward folly and punish forethought. I see it everywhere, here in the states too.


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