Beds, Herts & Bucks

Former Buckinghamshire councillor admits benefit fraud

A former councillor in Buckinghamshire has been sentenced to 100 hours community service for falsely claiming £6,323 in benefits while in office.

Stefan Balbuza, 42, of Silverstone Road, Stowe, was investigated by Aylesbury Vale District Council while he represented its Luffield Abbey ward.

He admitted four benefit fraud charges and was sentenced at Aylesbury Crown Court.

The council described the offences as "distasteful".

'High standards'

Balbuza, who resigned as councillor in December last year, was also told to pay a £4,875 compensation order.

The offences stemmed from May 2007, when he became a councillor, to September 2009.

The council said he claimed the money in housing and council tax benefit while failing to declare he received his councillors' allowance.

The allowance was paid into a bank account which he did not declare on any benefit forms, the council said.

He also failed to declare that he worked in a solicitor's office in July 2007, it added.

Speaking after the case, Neil Blake, the council's cabinet member for resources, said: "The fact the Mr Balbuza was a councillor makes, to my mind, this offence even more distasteful.

"Elected members have a duty to uphold the high standards expected of them and any breach lets down not only the electorate but, also, their fellow councillors."

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