A JAIL term has been handed to a Carlisle man who illegally claimed two benefits for around three years, raking in more than £40,000 he was not entitled to.

Despite claiming that he was unable to work due to poor health, Alan Pullar, 49, failed to declare he was working more hours than permitted as a petrol forecourt assistant.

That failure allowed him to claim a little over £41,500 – most of that being employment support allowance.

He also illegally claimed housing benefit.

The prosecution – one of a series locally involving the DWP – has prompted comments from both the Department’s Secretary of State Mel Stride MP and from Paul Maynard MP, the Minister responsible for tackling fraud.

Carlisle’s Rickergate court heard that Pullar, of Kirriemuir Way, Etterby, wrongly claimed £34,645 in employment support allowance and £6,967 in housing benefit.

He should have informed the authorities as soon as he began working more than 16 hours per week, the court heard. 

But his working hours rose to more than 30 hours.

After entering guilty pleas to the two offences, the defendant told the district judge in court he was sorry and that he intended to repay the money. The court heard that Pullar initially denied any wrongdoing but he later changed his pleas to guilty.

The housing benefit fraud was committed between January 6, 2020, and December 12, 2022, and the employment support allowance claim was made illegally between May 1, 2019, and May 12, 2022.

After hearing the details, the district judge jailed the defendant for 26 weeks. He is likely to be released on licence at the half way point in that term.

Mel Stride commented: “This case is yet more proof that our investigators are rooting out fraudsters. 

“Every wrongful benefit claim steals from taxpayers and those who need the most support. It is right and fair that those who take money intended for the most vulnerable face the full force of the law.” 

Paul Maynard said: “Our benefit system is there to help the most vulnerable in our society – which is why it is only fair that we hold those who defraud the system to account.

“This latest case comes as we continue to turn the tide on benefit cheats with a new target to save at least £1.3 billion on fraud and error this year – ensuring our help goes to those who need it most.”

The prosecution has come as the DWP’s Fighting Fraud in the Welfare System plan, backed by £900 million over three years, bolsters the Government’s counter-fraud frontline with measures including trained specialists to review millions of Universal Credit claims.   

This clampdown, together with wider benefit checks and controls, prevented losses of at least £18 billion last year and saw fraud and error fall by 10 percent.   

This will be further bolstered by the Government legislating for new fraud powers. These will allow the DWP to request data from third parties, such as banks, that could show signals of potential benefit fraud and error. 

In order to claim benefits legitimately in the UK, claimants must report any change of circumstances. If people are unsure about their benefit claim, the DWP offers free telephone calls to the benefit hotline. 

Call 0800 731 0469 or visit https://www.gov.uk/report-benefits-change-circumstances for more information on reporting changes in circumstances.