Wigan benefit fraudster must repay £22k in three months or face five years in jail

A Wigan man who admitted benefit fraud must repay more than £22,000 in three months – or he will be jailed for five years.

A hearing was held at Bolton Crown Court under the Proceeds of Crime Act to establish how much of the money obtained by John Barnett, of Legh Street, Ashton, could be recovered.

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It was determined he had benefited from £55,824.50 by failing to notify the authorities of a change of circumstances that affected entitlement to a council tax cut from Wigan Council and employment and support allowance (ESA) from DWP.

Bolton Crown CourtBolton Crown Court
Bolton Crown Court
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The council tax deduction was received between May 2015 and December 2019, while he received ESA from September 2018 to March 2019.

Barnett, 63, pleaded guilty and was given a 27-week prison sentence, suspended for 12 months, earlier this year. He was also put under a three-month curfew.

He has now agreed to pay back £22,098.34 within three months and faces five years in prison if he defaults.