A championship-winning golf enthusiast was jailed for six months at Cardiff Crown Court yesterday after it was revealed he had fraudulently claimed more than £26,000 in disability benefits.
Alan Bannister, 56, of Barry Road, Barry, claimed he was unable to feed himself, saying he couldn’t even hold a saucepan in one hand, but was filmed by Department for Work and Pensions officers completing an 18-hole course at Llantwit Major in 2012, following a tip-off.
Bannister retired as a mechanical engineer after being diagnosed with ankylosing spondylitis, a form of arthritis, in 2002. After initially receiving a lower rate of disability allowance for his genuine condition, he successfully applied for the highest rate available in 2004, claiming it took him 15 minutes to walk 50 yards in severe discomfort and was unable to cook himself a hot meal.
The rate is designed to help people only with the most severe of mobility issues. But he was filmed completing a 5,000-metre course unassisted with no sign of discomfort, after it was revealed he was participating in a five-day golf tournament.
A Department for Work & Pensions spokesman said: “Benefit payments should go to those who really need them. We know it’s a small minority of people who commit benefit fraud, but deliberately not informing us of a change in your condition that may affect your claim is a crime. Don’t wait for our fraud investigators to find you – tell us of a change now. If you suspect someone of fraudulently claiming benefits, then call our National Benefit Fraud Hotline on 0800 854 440.”