Piotr Ponikowski, 38, of Fore Street, Hertford pleaded guilty to two charges of fraud at Stevenage Magistrates Court on November 15. In a prosecution brought by the Department for Work and Pensions, the court heard that he had claimed housing benefit and council tax discounts and reductions until August 2016, due to his low income.
In late 2016, the Hertfordshire Shared Anti-Fraud Service (SAFS), working for East Herts Council, received information that Mr Ponikowski had failed to report the change in his income. An investigation followed and confirmed that he had failed to declare a significant increase in earnings from May 2013.
As a result, he was overpaid council tax support of £2,553 and housing benefit of £13,839 between May 2013 and August 2016. He has now made arrangements to repay these sums in full to the council.
Following his guilty plea, he received a 12-month community order, 250 hours of unpaid work and was ordered to pay costs of £85, as well as a victim surcharge to the court.
Geoffrey Williamson, East Herts Council's executive member for finance, said: "Council tax fraud costs us all millions of pounds every year, and results in higher tax bills. We are committed to rooting out and tackling this kind of fraud, as demonstrated in this case."
If you know someone who is claiming a council tax discount, or a reduction or exemption they are not entitled to, you can report it to the Hertfordshire Shared Anti-Fraud Service by telephone 0300 1234033, email email@example.com, or by visiting www.hertfordshire.gov.uk/fraud
January 9 2019