Vital public see justice done say Warwick District Council

Jenny Morgan, who is in a long-running dispute about housing benefit.
Jenny Morgan, who is in a long-running dispute about housing benefit.

It is important that members of the public see that those who claim benefits to which they are not entitled should feel the weight of the law.

This is the view of Warwick District Council where last week chief executive Chris Elliott received a letter from ten councillors urging him to let the case against a Lapworth pensioner drop.

Jenny Morgan has always insisted she does not owe the district council £13,000 in overpaid housing benefits.

Over the past eight years different courts and tribunal hearings have ruled first one way and then the other.

District councillor Ann Blacklock (LibDem, Abbey End) has had some sympathy for Mrs Morgan. Like her district colleagues, she can see that there can be no winners if the battle continues.

More expensive legal hearings before an upper tribunal and a separate judicial review are already on the horizon.

Even if the council wins, Mrs Morgan would have no money to pay back legal costs.

Despite this, Mr Elliott said: “At a two-day first-tier tribunal last year Mrs Morgan was found to have been overpaid benefits to the sum of £13,662 over a period of ten years.

“The judge found Mrs Morgan had withheld information from the council deliberately, that she had not been a reliable witness and that she had not genuinely dealt fairly and honestly with her claims.”

This led to magistrates making a liability order against Mrs Morgan who is attempting to appeal these decisions. The current position is the council has proven its case and she is liable to repay the overpayments.

“The council has been trying to recover the overpayments since they were discovered several years ago, despite determined resistance from Mrs Morgan and her lawyers.

“This has been a cost to the taxpayer but people who take more than their entitlement increase the cost of the benefits system and take money away from those who genuinely need it.”