Man denies £34,000 fraud

A Lavenham man claimed £34,000 in benefits after failing to declare £300,000 he earned from the sale of a house, a court has heard.

Gary Raffle, 56, of Water Street, denied two charges of failing to tell the Department for Work and Pensions and Babergh District Council when he sold a house he had inherited for £300,000 in 2006, at Ipswich Crown Court this week.

Anyone with more than £16,000 in cash or assets is ineligible for income tax and housing benefit.

Despite being asked at least annually to complete a form confirming that the threshold had not been exceeded or that any other change in circumstances had occurred, Raffle did not reveal what had happened, claimed William Eaglestone, prosecuting.

The offences are said to have been committed between July, 2006, and February, 2011. Mr Eaglestone told the jury that Raffle had been eligible for incapacity benefit since 1997 but that benefit, unlike the others, was not means tested.

The jury have heard that Raffle unlawfully claimed £27,500 in income support and £6,500 in council tax benefit, equivalent to total support of around £130 a week.

He had spent all but £60,000 of the house sale proceeds by the time he was charged. The trial continues.