Disabled man to pay back £20k benefits

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A DISABLED Spalding man was handed a £680 court bill on top of the £20,883.35 he must repay to the Department for Work and Pensions for failing to tell them his condition had improved.

James Cropley (54), of Algers Walk, originally made a claim for the then ‘mobility allowance’ in 1990 when he could walk no more than 50 yards.

But he carried on claiming when doing “heavy manual work” for poultry company Bernard Matthews and while working as a lorry driver for transport company Gist, Spalding magistrates heard.

Solicitor Beris Brickles, prosecuting for the DWP, said there was no suggestion Cropley’s claim was fraudulent when it began.

But he failed to declare an improvement in his condition.

Mr Brickles read statements from managers at Bernard Matthews and Gist who revealed they had made no concessions or changes to the jobs because of his disability.

The manager for Bernard Matthews said Cropley was undertaking heavy manual work, wading through chickens, feeding them and carrying heavy loads.

Mr Brickles said it was estimated Cropley owed £20,883.35 going back to 2002 and he is repaying that to the DWP.

Cropley was walking with a heavily pronounced limp in court – holding on to the back of a chair when he stood for magistrates and holding on to the dock’s wooden surround as he arrived and left for the hearing.

He pleaded guilty at Wednesday’s hearing to failing to notify a change of circumstances.

Solicitor Daven Naghen, mitigating, said Cropley takes 18 painkillers a day.

When first awarded the allowance, he was told it would be for an indefinite period.

Mr Naghen said: “His doctors have always told him ‘you will never get better, you will only get worse, but you will get worse quicker if you sit and do nothing’.”

He said Cropley found his own ways to make each of his jobs easier to do and to avoid lifting where he could.