Universal Credit claimant threatened with 'prison sentence' after 'false claim'

A Universal Credit benefits cheat has falsely claimed money from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) for three years. Mark Graeme Lockwood, 43, from Colenso Street, Hartlepool, was dishonestly failing to notify changes to his social security benefit claim.

It included Universal Credit, Employment Disability Living Allowance and Carers Allowance. He was sentenced at Newton Aycliffe Magistrates' Court on Monday to a 24-week prison sentence, suspended for 12 months.

Mr Lockwood was also ordered to pay £154 surcharge to fund victim services and £85 in costs to the CPS (Crown Prosecution Service), as well as being sentenced on three counts of failing to notify changes that affected his entitlement to social security benefits.

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Lockwood withheld information from the DWP over a period of many years and refused to reveal his children were no longer in his care. The Universal Credit charge concerned a period between September 3, 2020 and May 2, 2023, while the second Employment Disability Living Allowance charge concerned a period between September 3, 2020, and June 16, 2021.

Meanwhile, a third charge, regarding Carers Allowance, concerned the period between September 28, 2020, and April 24, 2022. He pleaded guilty at Newton Aycliffe Magistrates' Court on Monday (July 8) to three counts of failing to notify changes that affected his entitlement to social security benefits.

On its website, the DWP says: "You commit benefit fraud by claiming benefits you’re not entitled to on purpose. For example by: not reporting a change in your circumstances or providing false information." It adds: "You’ll be contacted by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC), the Defence Business Services or your local authority if you’re suspected of fraud.

"Your benefit may be stopped while you’re investigated. You’ll get a letter telling you about this if it happens. You may be visited by Fraud Investigation Officers (FIOs) or asked to attend an interview to talk about your claim - this is called an ‘interview under caution’."