Hertford fraudster pleads guilty to four counts

Published: 29 Aug 2019

Nichola Ratcliff, 54, of Purkiss Road, Hertford pleaded guilty at St Albans Magistrates court on Wednesday 28 August to four counts of ‘fraud by failing to disclose’ in relation to Residence Order Allowance payments from Hertfordshire County Council.

A child was placed into the care of Ratcliff by means of a Residence Order when he was one year old. Residence Order Allowance payments were granted to Ratcliff from November 2002 to support the child financially. However, in October 2014 the child was voluntarily removed from the care of Ratcliff, but she failed to notify Hertfordshire County Council Residence Team of this change in circumstances.

An investigation carried out by The Shared Anti-Fraud Service for the county council found that in order to receive the allowance, Ratcliff completed annual Residence Order Allowance Reviews whereby she declared that the minor was still living with her as a member of her household for the financial years, 2014-2015, 2015-2016, 2016-2017 and 2017-2018.

The court heard that as a result of Ratcliff’s dishonesty she received £19,842.28 of Residence Order Allowance that she was not entitled to between October 2014 and November 2017. She has been invoiced for the full debt and has entered into a repayment agreement with the county council.

Ratcliff is due to be sentenced at Luton Crown Court on Friday 20 September 2019.

Cabinet Member for Resources and Performance, Cllr Ralph Sangster said: “This was a deliberate fraud perpetrated against the county council over a number of years. Some people often think that fraud such as this is a victimless crime but, in fact, it robs the people who truly need help and generates enormous costs that are borne by the public. We are seeking the return of this money to the public purse.”

Anyone with information about an allegation of fraud can report it in confidence by visiting hertfordshire.gov.uk/reportfraud or by contacting the Shared Anti-Fraud Service hotline on 0300 123 4033 or by email fraud.team@hertfordshire.gov.uk