Councillor told to pay back benefits after investigation

Coun Jim Aspinall.
Coun Jim Aspinall.

A leading Ashfield councillor has admitted he has been forced to pay back benefits money following an investigation.

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) launched a probe into Councillor Jim Aspinall last year amid allegations he was falsely claiming disability living allowance, despite his obvious failing health.

Although he has not confirmed how much he has to pay back, he described it as a ‘small sum’ and ‘not an issue’.

He said: “They had me on the wrong band, but I’m happy it’s over, it’s case closed as far as they (DWP) are concerned.”

The DWP launched their investigation after they took possession of a video of Coun Aspinall on an NHS march from 2014.

He says he only walked a few metres and drove the remainder.

However, the 67-year-old has a catalogue of health issues, having had four heart attacks, a triple by-pass operation, has undergone radiotherapy for prostate cancer, has bowel condition diverticulitis, has degenerative spondylolisthesis meaning he has severe pain in his lower back, high blood pressure and type-two diabetes.

He is also now waiting for a by-pass operation on his legs because of peripheral artery disease.

“My conscience is absolutely clear, everybody knows about my health,” he said.

He had been collecting £330 a month, but following the investigation this would have been reduced - although no figure has been confirmed.

When the Chad first reported on the investigation, Coun Aspinall said he would no longer accept any benefit payments, whatever the outcome, and he is sticking to his word.

He said: “I don’t have many needs in life - I was told to re-apply but with all the trauma, I just don’t want it anymore.

“This investigation had a severe effect on my health and resulted in me having a major heart attack.

“I’ve got the money from my council work, my pension and the work I do for Gloria (Ms De Piero, Ashfield MP).”

The DWP said it could not comment on Coun Aspinall’s case.