THE former chairman of a residents’ association has been convicted of defrauding more than £9,000 from the government.
Kenneth Milward claimed £9,187 in Employment Support Allowance between 2011 and 2013 because he could not get a job.
But the 60-year-old failed to let the authorities know that he was also receiving a private annual pension pay-out of £3,370.
Milward, who was once chairman of St Vincent Road Residents’ Association in Gosport, appeared at Fareham Magistrates’ Court for trial yesterday.
He had pleaded not guilty to one of two fraud charges, but changed his plea to guilty for both counts.
Prosecutor Alicia Keen said the pension should have been declared to the Department of Work & Pensions.
She said Milward received three of the pension pay-outs – amounting to more than £10,000 – while he was receiving the employment benefit.
Defence lawyer Natalie Dennington said Milward was confused when filling out the forms of where to declare his pension. When filling out the form he was unsure where this information needed to go on the form, she said.
‘That was a payment once a year. It was a one-off payment.
‘He received that from 2011 while still receiving benefit.
‘He accepts entirely he did not specifically go to the DWP and inform them of this change.’
Ms Dennington said Milward had struggled to get a job after being diagnosed with diabetes and having a heart pacemaker fitted.
‘He’s somebody who has worked all his life,’ she said.
‘It’s only in the last three years as a consequence of his ill health that he has not.’
Milward, of St Vincent Road, has started repaying the debt, with contributions of £29 a fortnight which will go up to £59 a fortnight.
Chairman of the bench Stephen Waller gave Milward a 12-month community order to do 100 hours of unpaid work. He must pay a total of £100 in costs to the court.
After the case, Milward, a former pub landlord, said he felt he had been ‘done over’ by the system. He said: ‘I have paid my taxes. I have worked all my life. At the moment I am a mess physically.
‘In the last 12 months I have applied for 1,000 jobs. I have had one interview and a couple of “no’s” – and that’s it.’