Benefits advisor to repay over £4,000

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A MAN who advised people on state benefits has to repay more than £4,000 in benefits he received when he was not entitled to them.

James Neve, 30, of Brigg Road, Hibaldstow, pleaded guilty at Lincoln Magistrates Court to failing to declare a change of circumstances which affected his entitlement to housing and council tax benefit.

In a prosecution brought by West Lindsey District Council, the court heard Neve was overpaid £3,814.37 in housing benefit and £949.09 in council tax benefit.

David Payne prosecuting explained the overpayment took place between June 2009 and May 2010.

He said: “Neve claimed Job Seekers Allowance (JSA) for himself and his partner.

“In June 2009 he also claimed housing benefit and council tax benefit from West Lindsey District Council who are the complainants in this case.

“As a result of enquiries by officers of West Lindsey District Council in May 2010 they found Neve was no longer in receipt of JSA.

“On May 18 2009 it was put to him he was no longer receiving JSA as he had found employment with the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) as a call adviser who was employed to take calls on state benefits.”

Defending himself Neve said: “I was told by the job centre they would tell them and that I would retain some money for my partner who was not working. I admit I should have notified them and I have no problems with paying it back.”

Neve said he had not thought about it because he had experienced some health problems including appendicitis, bronchitis and a possible brain tumour.

Neve added: “I’m very sorry.”

Magistrate Alan Middleton said: “Mr Neve, as I explained to you some time ago, we treat the nature of this offence as serious, which will be dealt with by way of a community penalty.”

Neve was given a 12 month community order, which requires him to do 100 hours of unpaid work in the community in the next 12 months.

In line with council policy, he will also have to repay back the overpayment of £4,763.46.