Norfolk man had worked for job centre while claiming benefits

A benefit cheat left officials red-faced at the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) after he falsely claimed a total of �18,000 in benefits while not declaring at one stage that he was working at the local job centre.

John Pickard, 64, was claiming benefits including incapacity benefit while not declaring he was working as a claims processor at the job centre, which a Norwich Crown Court judge described as 'bizarre'.

After Pickard left the job he continued to claim benefits including pension credits while working as a taxi driver for a private hire company.

Pickard of High Street, Whissonsett, near Dereham, admitted failing to notify about a change in circumstances.

The court heard that he is now repaying the money out of his weekly benefits.

Pickard was ordered to do 200 hours unpaid work and given a 12 month community order.

Sentencing him, Judge Peter Jacobs said that while claiming benefits Pickard had worked as a taxi driver and said: 'At some stage you also worked for the DWP which seems bizarre.'

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He said under the present guidelines he fell into a bracket which meant he would receive a community order rather than prison for the offence.

Andrew Oliver, for Pickard, said that he had worked all his life and had started claiming incapacity benefit after needing a knee operation.

'He got a job at a job centre and was already claiming incapacity benefit.'

He said after having the knee operation Pickard suffered from significant complications and was now not a well man.

A spokesman for the DWP added: 'We take fraud by staff extremely seriously. It is looked into by professionally trained investigators and where it is proven, staff are subject to disciplinary action including dismissal and we will prosecute.'

The National Fraud Benefit Hotline (0800 854 440) deals with suspected staff benefit fraud.

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