Sheffield Crown Court: Benefit cheat illegally claimed over £25,000 while he had £70k in savings

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A welfare fraudster illegally claimed more than £25,000 in Universal Credit benefits from the Department for Work and Pensions while he had around £70,000 in savings.

Trevor Barlow, aged 58, of Thorpe Street, Thorpe Hesley, Rotherham, wrongfully misled the DWP claiming he only had £4,542 in savings which allowed him to claim £25,078.34p in Universal Credit benefits between January, 2019, and March 29, 2022, according to a Sheffield Crown Court hearing.

Prosecuting barrister Katherine White told the March 28 hearing that Barlow had submitted an online claim to the DWP for Universal Credit and she explained that for such applications to be successful the claimant cannot be in possession of more than £16,000 of capital but the defendant had in the region of £70,000 in savings.

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The Recorder of Sheffield, Judge Jeremy Richardson KC, told Barlow: “You are permitted as any citizen is permitted to have up to £16,000 of capital. You had £70,000 worth of capital. You fraudulently asserted that you only had £4,500 worth of capital and in consequence of that fraud you were paid Universal Credit and there has been an over-payment of a little over £25,000.”

Sheffield Crown Court has heard how a South Yorkshire benefit cheat claimed over £25,000 in illegal Universal Credit benefits after he failed to declare he had about £70,000 in savings during the relevant period.Sheffield Crown Court has heard how a South Yorkshire benefit cheat claimed over £25,000 in illegal Universal Credit benefits after he failed to declare he had about £70,000 in savings during the relevant period.
Sheffield Crown Court has heard how a South Yorkshire benefit cheat claimed over £25,000 in illegal Universal Credit benefits after he failed to declare he had about £70,000 in savings during the relevant period.

Ms White said that Barlow had a fluctuating figure of over £70,000 across three bank accounts in capital savings during the relevant period of offending which he had originally earmarked to help him buy out his siblings for ownership of an inherited family property left to them.

Barlow, who has no previous convictions, pleaded guilty to benefit fraud by failing to declare he had capital in excess of £16,000 when he applied to the DWP for Universal Credit.

Defence barrister Dale Harris said Barlow had worked as an HGV driver and he had intended to buy out his siblings’ shares of the inherited property left to them by their parents.

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But after Barlow had suffered a stroke in 2016 he struggled to keep working and by 2018 he became too poorly to continue to hold his HGV and heavy plant driving licences.

Pictured is Sheffield Crown Court.Pictured is Sheffield Crown Court.
Pictured is Sheffield Crown Court.

Mr Harris added: “So it was a consequence of his ill-health that led him to make a claim for Universal Credit but clearly he should have declared the capital he had amassed to pay off his siblings.

“He has properly pleaded guilty because he did not declare that and the only explanation he can give in his mind is that, that money was no longer his money but clearly it was his money and it should have been declared.”

Judge Richardson said Barlow’s offending was clearly fraud and that the tax-payer had assisted the defendant in buying his house.

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He added: “What you are not allowed to do is go to the state and say, ‘I need assistance,’ and lie and that is why he has committed a crime.”

Judge Richardson sentenced Barlow to six months of custody suspended for 18 months with a three-month curfew operating between 6pm to 6am daily.

He also fixed a Proceeds of Crime Act hearing for August 22 to consider how the defrauded money can be recovered and told Barlow that any failure to pay back any agreed amount would result in prison.