Scarborough firm fined over benefits payments to council

A Scarborough firm has been prosecuted.
A Scarborough firm has been prosecuted.

A Scarborough company has been fined for failing to make deductions from an employee’s earnings following a series of benefits overpayments.

Simply IP Solutions Ltd of Durham Place, Scarborough, has been prosecuted for failing to operate a Direct Earnings Attachment (DEA) for Scarborough Borough Council.

A DEA is where an employer is sent a notice to make deductions from their employee’s pay to recover overpayments of benefits. This includes overpaid Housing Benefit.

The Director of Simply IP Solutions Ltd, Gareth Paul Wiffen, failed to attend court on 19 March and in his absence, the company was found guilty of four offences under The Social Security Regulations 2013.

As a result the firm was ordered to pay a £1,200 fine, £250 for legal costs and a victim surcharge of £120.

The victim surcharge goes to the Victim and Witness General Fund to pay for services to support victims and witnesses of crime. This includes grants to charities that support victims.

The court fine goes to HM Courts and Tribunals Services to pay for the running costs of HM Courts and Tribunals Service while the contribution to legal costs goes to the council to cover the cost of bringing the case to court.

Scarborough Borough Council say they were left with no option but to prosecute after the company failed in its legal obligations to make deductions from an employee’s earnings following a DEA notice being issued for an unpaid invoice for overpaid Housing Benefit.

This was despite numerous reminders and attempts to contact Mr Wiffen during a prolonged period.

A spokesperson for Scarborough Borough Council said: “Overpayments occur for a number of reasons and these could include changes in circumstances that are not reported or reported late. Statistics published by the Department for Work and Pensions indicate that councils in Great Britain wrote off £100 million in overpaid Housing Benefit during 2017/18.

“We have a duty to protect public funds and a DEA is an important tool to enable us to recover overpaid Housing Benefit from customers in employment. Employers are legally obliged to act on DEA requests and must take these matters seriously. We will take court action where we feel there is no other course of action.”