Shirebrook woman sentenced for housing fraud

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A Shirebrook woman has been sentenced a community order after admitting housing fraud.

Amanda Lawson (41) of Station View, approached Scarborough Borough Council in 2012 and told them that her and her partner were homeless and needed accommodation.

They were subsequently housed by Yorkshire Coast Homes in the coastal town.

However, Lawson’s partner owned a property in Shirebrook, which was rented out to tenants and the statements made to the Housing Options team were false.#

If Lawson and her partner had not chosen to tenant the property then it would have been available for her to live in.

Lawson pleaded guilty to all charges under the Fraud Act 2006.

At the hearing probation services confirmed that Lawson was already subject to supervision as a result of a previous fraud offence.

Re-sentencing on both offences, magistrates commented that if she continued to commit this type of offence, she would end up in custody.

A community order was imposed on Lawson with a requirement that she completes 18 months supervision and be subject to a curfew between 7pm and 7am for four weeks.

During the investigation, the social housing property was vacated and re-let to a family in housing need.

Lawson left the area, returning to the family’s property in Nottinghamshire.

Chris Brown, the council’s Senior Housing Options Officer said: “There is a national shortage of affordable housing and it is very important that it is available to those in most housing need. When applicants try to gain housing by deception, I am pleased that the courts recognise the seriousness of this crime and punish those who cheat the system accordingly.

“I hope that this acts as a warning to others who may have considered trying to obtain social housing by dishonest means.”

A spokesperson for the council’s counter fraud team added: “The loss to the public purse as a result of Lawson’s fraud is unquantifiable. However the indirect effect of her behaviour, by removing the availability of a social housing tenancy from those people genuinely in need of it, is unacceptable.

“There are a number of individuals and families on the housing waiting list and in temporary accommodation in the borough and Lawson’s acceptance of a tenancy to which she was not entitled meant that a family in need of a home was denied access to settled accommodation for a period of 15 months.

“During that time, Lawson also benefitted from social housing rent levels as a tenant of Yorkshire Coast Homes.

“The council is committed to detecting fraud and ensuring that the provision of services to those people genuinely in need of housing is protected.”