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Woman who lied to claim housing benefit told to pay more than £600

PUBLISHED: 09:41 23 September 2016 | UPDATED: 09:57 23 September 2016

Bexley Magistrates Court

Bexley Magistrates Court

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The facts came to light after a member of the public saw reports in the local media

A woman who lied on her housing application to claim benefits has been ordered to pay more than £600 after being prosecuted by Bexley Council.

Rachael Sims, 38, of Brickfield Cottages, pleaded guilty to making a false declaration to claim housing assistance or accommodation at Bexley Magistrates’ Court this week (Tuesday, September 20).

On January 22 last year, Sims claimed that she was entitled to housing assistance from the council as her landlord was selling the property she was living in on Seaton Road, Welling, making her and her family homeless.

However, she had already been given an eviction notice for non-payment of rent, meaning she would not have been given the housing assistance that she received had the council been informed of the situation.

The facts came to light after Sims appeared in the local media criticising the temporary accommodation she was given while her application was being processed, prompting a member of the public to come forward with information that cast doubt on her claim.

Sims was fined £120 and ordered to pay £500 costs to the Council and a £20 victim surcharge, with magistrates taking into account information she submitted regarding her means.

Cabinet member for finance and corporate services Donald Massey said: “Mrs Sims came to the council for help and blatantly gave us false facts in order to obtain housing assistance that should have gone to someone in our community who genuinely deserved it.

“Our scant resources and the ever increasing demand for housing means that we take a crime like this extremely seriously and I’m glad that magistrates agreed. The assistance that Mrs Sims hoped to claim is ultimately funded by Bexley Council Taxpayers’ and we are duty bound to make sure that something like this does not go unpunished.

“I hope that this case serves as an example to anyone thinking about defrauding the council.”

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