A former Railway worker from Rochford has pleaded guilty to fraudulently claiming more than £15,000 in benefits.

Andrew Porter, 62, of Leecon Way, Rochford, pleaded guilty to fraudulently claiming Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit by making a false statement whilst receiving an Occupational Pension from the Railway Pension Scheme.

Southend Magistrates Court heard he claimed the benefits whilst receiving an undeclared occupational pension.

From January 2008 to January 2013 he fraudulently claimed Housing Benefit of £12,347.65 and Council Tax Benefit of £3,169.48. The total overpayment for the period was £15,517.13.

Porter was sentenced to two months imprisonment suspended for 12 months and ordered to undertake 200 hours of unpaid work in the community. He was also ordered to pay costs of £350 and a victim surcharge of £60, all of which have to be paid within 14 days of the hearing. In addition, the outstanding overpayment will also be recovered in full by the council.

Malcolm Maddocks, Rochford District councillor responsible for council tax collection and benefits, said: “Benefits are there to help people who genuinely need financial help, however, we will not tolerate people who abuse the system and fraudulently claim money to which they are not entitled.

“The sentence handed down by the court sends a strong message that we will not tolerate the abuse of public funds. It is a minority of people who try to play the system but we are determined to put a stop to this crime and bring the perpetrators of benefit fraud to justice.”

If you suspect anyone of committing benefit fraud you can contact the council's investigation team in the strictest confidence on 01702 318041 or by emailing fraud@rochford.gov.uk