At Reading Magistrates Court, on the 27th of June , Michael Plumridge, aged 67 and his wife, Sylvia Plumridge, aged 68, both pleaded guilty to one charge of fraud in order to obtain a council house from the borough council.
Michael Plumridge also pleaded guilty to eight charges of dishonestly claiming benefits from both the Department for Work and Pensions and Wokingham Borough Council and his wife Sylvia Plumridge pleaded guilty to six charges of dishonestly claiming benefit from Wokingham Borough Council.
It was discovered that in 2010 the Plumridges had applied for, and been granted a council house whilst hiding the fact that Sylvia owned a villa in Spain which up until then had been their home. In addition to obtaining a house from the council that they weren’t entitled to, the pair failed to declare Sylvia’s NHS pension when they made claims for pension credit from the DWP and housing benefit and council tax benefit from the council. Because they failed to be honest about their true circumstances, they had received £16,003.62 and a council house which they were not entitled to.
The Deputy District Judge sentenced both Sylvia and Michael to a 12 month community order with 240 hours unpaid work. When passing sentence, the Judge stated that the hearing had brought home just how serious these offences are and that they were stealing from the public purse. She also ordered them to pay £1,235 – £617.50 each to cover the cost of the investigation and prosecution.
Julie Holland, head of business assurance team at Wokingham Borough Council , said: “With social housing in such short supply, and taxpayers’ money being so tight, it is vitally important that we seek to make sure that council houses and tax payers’ money only goes to those who really need it. Every council property that goes to the wrong person on average costs the council tax payers of Wokingham Borough £18,000 more than it should. We will continue to go after those fraudsters who think they can cheat the system and get away with it.”