Page last updated at 17:25 GMT, Monday, 7 September 2009 18:25 UK

Traffic warden to repay benefits


Video footage filmed by the Department for Work and Pensions of traffic warden Peter Hollifield

A traffic warden has admitted wrongly claiming the higher rate of disability benefit after returning to work and will repay £7,336.

Peter Hollifield, 57, from Caerphilly, made a legitimate claim in 2005 but returned to work in May 2006.

He said he could walk only 10 yards very slowly when ill, but magistrates heard he walked up to four miles a day.

His defence team said the claim was an "oversight", and he was sentenced to carry out 120 hours unpaid work.

The court heard that Hollifield admitted claiming the higher rate of Disability Living Allowance and was repaying what he had been overpaid at a rate of £100 a month.

Peter Hollifield
Peter Hollifield is repaying the money he was overpaid

The highest level of allowance is only given to people who either cannot walk at all or can only walk a short distance, the hearing was told.

When Hollifield made his original claim, he said it took him two minutes to walk 10 yards.

But magistrates were told that he would walk three or four miles a day as a traffic warden.

Christopher Davies, defending, said Hollifield is still suffering with arthritis and back spasms after an accident 30 years ago.

The solicitor said it was while his client was off work that the medication he was taking - which included having morphine every 12 hours - began to take effect.

"Firstly he went to the office and then he went back onto the street for want of a better expression," said Mr Davies.

'There for all to see'

"He did not realise that by going back to work he was falling foul of the system."

Mr Davies added: "He accepts that looking back in time he should have made it clear to the relevant department. The moment it was pointed out, he did not deny the offence. It is there for all to see."

He said he had come to a repayment arrangement but it was unlikely he would be able to carry on working as a traffic warden as a result of his conviction.

Magistrates' chairman Frank Cann sentenced Hollifield to a 12-month community order and ordered him to carry out 120 hours of unpaid work in the community.

After the case Brian Dunn, a team fraud investigator for the DWP, said they began tailing Hollifield after an anonymous tip-off.

"We have a national benefits fraud hotline and it is taking hundreds of calls every week," he said.

"That is now the main source of our allegations."

He added: "The nature of the job contradicted the award of disability living allowance."

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