Gosport man ordered to pay back £9,000 in housing benefits

Police say a missing man is safe and well

Police say missing Portsmouth man has been found

Have your say

BENEFITS cheat Steven Sweetenham has been ordered to pay back £9,000 by the courts.

An investigation by Gosport Borough Council’s fraud team lead to Sweetenham, 46, formerly of Linden Grove in Gosport, appearing at Fareham Magistrates’ Court.

He pleaded guilty to one offence under the Social Security Administration Act in that he dishonestly failed to promptly notify the council he had left the Gosport address.

As a result he continued to receive housing benefits of £9,000.

Sweetenham was sentenced to a 12-month community order, with a requirement to complete 150 hours of unpaid work.

He was also ordered to pay back the full £9,000 of overpaid benefits and £100 in costs.

The leader of Gosport Borough Council, Councillor Mark Hook, said: ‘It is important people who fraudulently claim money to which they are not entitled are caught and go before the court.

‘There are people out there in genuine need of help and we need to be in a position to respond, which is why offenders must be made to pay back monies in full and accept any punishment the courts see fit.’

People who know somebody who is cheating the benefits system are being urged to call Gosport Borough Council’s 24-hour benefit investigation hotline on (023) 9254 5545.

A council spokeswoman added: ‘If you believe you know someone is receiving benefit which they are not entitled to, then please do the right thing and call the hotline.’

All information received is treated in strict confidence.