A man who was working as a scrap metal dealer but still claiming benefits has escaped being sent to jail.
Andrew John Gibson, 49, of Perth Street, Lancaster, also worked as a parcel delivery driver and provided waste removal services for a student accommodation company, all the time claiming employment support allowance and housing benefit which he was not entitled to.
Prosecuting Alexandra Mann told magistrates at Preston that Andrew Gibson, also known as Andrew McGinan, was claiming employment support allowance from May 22, 2014 to September 1, 2016 which led to an overpayment of benefit amounting to £12,124.30 and housing benefit from May 25, 2014 to September 5, 2016, which led to an overpayment of housing benefit amounting to £9,185.82.
Alexandra Mann said: “The total overpayment was £21,310.12. Andrew Gibson was in receipt of employment and support allowance (ESA) from April 28, 2011 to September 1, 2016, on the basis that he was unfit for work. This benefit was paid on the basis that he would notify the Department for Work and Pensions of any changes in his circumstances which would affect the amount of benefit in payment, or entitlement to benefit.
“He was also in receipt of housing benefit from November 14, 2008 to September 5, 2016 on the basis that he was unemployed and had no income other than benefits.
“This benefit was paid on the basis that he would notify the local authority of any change in his circumstances which would affect the amount of benefit in payment, or entitlement to benefit.”
The court heard that during a DWP investigation into his activities, it emerged that Andrew Gibson, using the name Andrew McGinan,sold scrap metal he acquired from various sources to a number of scrap metal recycling companies thrughout the North West, including Morecambe, Preston, Poulton-le-Fylde, Leigh and Blackburn.
On each occasion a transaction took place, he was issued with a sales invoice, referred to as a ticket in the trade, always in the name McGinan.
Investigators found all the invoices issued to him during the time he was claiming benefits.
There was also evidence of a signed contract and monthly payments made to him by Hermes, a national parcels delivery company.
There was evidence of payments made to him by Crosslane Student Accommodation.
Defending John Greenwood said: “He fully and frankly admitted he had entered into self employment in 2014 and that he had used the name McGinan to do so. He stated the situation was ‘‘all his own fault’ he had just buried his head in the sand and allowed his benefits to continue.”
Gibson pleaded guilty to benefit fraud and was sentenced to four months in prison to run concurrently, suspended for 12 months.
He was also ordered to do 100 hours of unpaid workwith 20 rehabilitation days and pay £85 prosecution costs.