NHS groups welcome immigration change for doctors and nurses

The Home Office said foreign medics are to be excluded from the government’s cap on skilled migration.

NHS bosses said the move would be a “huge relief” to health trusts.

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt said it was “extremely welcome.”

The Royal College of GPs said it was a “great step forward.”

The cap sets the limit for all non-EU skilled workers at 20,700 a year.

The British Medical Journal has said that between December 2017 and March 2018 more than 1,500 visa applications from doctors with job offers in the UK were refused as a result of the cap on workers from outside the European Economic Area.

The move would also create space for thousands more immigrants in areas like science and IT.

Sunder Katwala, director of the immigration think-tank British Future, said removing medical personnel from the visa cap would be a “sensible move”.

He said: “It never made sense to turn away doctors and nurses that the NHS needs. It also frees up Tier 2 visa places for other employers who need high-skilled staff to fill vacancies.

“It’s the right short-term fix for 2018. In the longer term, Britain will need better training of doctors, engineers and others here in the UK, together with an immigration system that welcomes people with the skills we need.

“But perhaps this is a sign that Home Secretary Sajid Javid is willing to take a bolder and more flexible approach to immigration, and deliver the kind of system that Britain will need after we leave the EU.”




Immigration solicitor banned

A solicitor whose firm ran a series of immigration claims for judicial review with no prospect of success has been struck off.
According to the Law Gazette, Azfar Naseem Bajwa, principal of east London firm A Bajwa & Co, misled clients into thinking they had a prospect of success in cases which he knew could not be won.
The Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal heard that information supplied by the Home Office highlighted that between August 2014 and July 2015, the firm submitted at least 14 cases which were certified as ‘totally without merit.’
As reported by the Law Gazette, further inspections of the firm by the SRA showed that in a single year, 71 claims for judicial review were filed which were ultimately all refused. In 53 of these claims permission had been refused and of those 20 were totally without merit.
In a judgment, the tribunal said: ‘These were not borderline cases where (Bajwa) had advised a moderate prospect of success and had then been unsuccessful after full legal argument at a hearing. The chances of success had been non-existent and (he) knew that.’
The tribunal heard that it was Home Office policy to defer removal directions when the subject made a claim for JR; delaying removal until a determination was made.
Because removal was therefore no longer ‘imminent’, the claimant would often be released from immigration detention, even when their claim was without merit.
The Law Gazette wrote that Bajwa said he had played down the chances of success to clients and recalled trying to dissuade one client from bringing a claim. But the SRA said he showed a ‘reckless disregard’ for professional obligations and it was no defence to say the claim form had been drafted by his father.
The tribunal described the way in which Bajwa gave evidence as ‘discursive, inconsistent and lacked credibility’, and added that the way in which he used the immigration system had a ‘clear potential to be abusive’.
The judgment added, ‘The filing of unarguable and abusive claims was part of a pattern designed to, in particular in relation to detention cases, secure a result for a client that could not otherwise have been legitimately achieved.’
Bajwa was struck off the roll of solicitors and ordered to pay £37,500 costs.



Benefit cheat claimed £55,000

A benefit cheat falsely claimed over £55,000 whilst simultaneously receiving money from her husband every month.

Newport Crown Court heard Sharon Calder, 57, had falsely claimed £55,444.43 in benefits including income support, housing benefit, and council tax benefit from around 2009.

Calder had also received around £68,000 in inheritance.

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) initially investigated the case in November 2012.

Barrister Jeffrey Jones, prosecuting, said that after obtaining her bank statements the DWP discovered the inheritance had been spent in “less than a week.”

Calder had around £44,500 to pay back and was currently repaying around £180 a month.

Rosamund Rutter, defending, said Calder previously worked as a care worker but due to a back injury had been out of employment since around 2004 and had no previous convictions.

Ms Rutter said, “She (Calder) regrets her behaviour and expressed remorse in her interviews.”

She added that in one interview with the probation service Calder said: “I have made a big mistake”.

Sentencing, Judge Stephen Hopkins QC said, “You described yourself as a single woman with no income or savings. But the truth is you were being supported by your husband.

Calder pleaded guilty to eight counts of benefit fraud and one count of fraudulent activity with tax credits after initially pleading not guilty.

She was sentenced to 12 months in prison and was ordered to pay £1,200 in costs and a victim surcharge.




Benefit cheat with over £50,000 in his bank account dishonestly claimed tens of thousands

A benefits cheat who had over £50,000 in his bank account after receiving money from an inheritance has been sentenced after illegally claiming more than £30,000.

Constantino Fenu, 63, was sentenced at Cardiff Crown Court after pleading guilty to seven counts of benefit fraud.

The court heard Fenu received benefits he was not entitled to including housing benefit, council tax benefit, and jobseekers’ allowance between 2009 and 2011.

Fenu failed to notify Cardiff Council and the Department for Work and Pensions that he had received inheritance which meant he was no longer eligible to receive benefits.

The fraud was uncovered by the Council and the Department for Work and Pensions.

Fenu is now paying £200 a month and has paid back almost £20,000 of the amount he claimed.

Sentencing, Judge Stephen Hopkins QC said: “You have by a cat’s whisker avoided an immediate custodial sentence.

“You knew the amount of inheritance you received would effect the amount of benefit you were entitled to.

“You are an intelligent man so don’t be so stupid in future.”

Fenu was sentenced to eight months imprisonment suspended for two years and was ordered to carry out 80 hours of unpaid work.



Pensioner in court over benefit fraud

A retired nurse is accused of creating false tenancy agreements and claimed she rented her £400,000 home in order to claim £66,000 in benefits that she wasn’t entitled to.

Margaret Ayensu, 71, lied over a period of ten years and fraudulently claimed pensions credit and housing benefit.

In addition, Ayensu also created several false letters to support her claims.

Ayensu, from Storrington, was spared jail by a judge due to her age and her years of public service working as a nurse.

However, Ayensu will have to repay more than £66,000.

Gareth Burrows, prosecuting, told Lewes Crown Court, “She claimed she had no income coming in and she was renting her property.

“She provided a rental agreement from a landlord in the name of Margaret McAlpine, but that was a name she had previously used. He property belonged to her.

“She claimed housing benefit from 2005 for the address that was in fact hers.

“She then subsequently provided a letter from a Cecil Grey confirming the rental. Again that letter was false.

“A further letter was provided in 2009 and that letter was on headed paper and again saying there was a rental agreement on that property.

“Again that letter was fraudulent. Whilst her deceit may not have taken considerable effort it was over a long period of time.”

Martin Williams, defending, said Ayensu had fallen into financial difficulties after retiring but had not realised there were benefits available that could help her while struggling to meet mortgage repayments.

Recorder Tom Nicholson-Pratt told Ayensu, “If you had gone about this in a legitimate way you could have got some help.

“You come before the court for dishonesty over a considerable period of time, between 2006 and 2017.

“You provided false documents to support your claim.

“You must have realised as this was going on you could stop it at any time. But you perpetuated it.

“You are now 71 years of age and have some health concerns.

“I take the view that in the circumstances of this case I can suspend your 12 month sentence and there will be a rehabilitation requirement on you.

“I know you are not going to put yourself in this position again.”


Landlord avoids jail after man’s 40% burns in fire horror

A landlord has escaped jail after failing to have proper fire safety precautions after a man suffered life-threatening 40 per cent burns when he was trapped in his room.

Warwick Crown Court heard that the victim, suffered after another resident deliberately started a fire in a Coventry multiple occupancy house.

Simon Fox (55) of Common Lane, Polesworth, had denied fire safety offences in relation to the house in Humber Road, Coventry but pleaded guilty to failing to take general fire precautions, placing people in danger in the event of a fire.

Warwick Crown Court heard that an arson incident occurred when an intoxicated ground-floor resident, who has since been jailed for three years, started a fire in her room.

The victim was rescued by firefighters who had found him unconscious in his room and was rushed to University Hospital in Coventry before being transferred to a specialised burns unit in London.

An investigation subsequently revealed there was no interlinked automatic fire detection system, and although there were some individual smoke detectors, the one on the kitchen, where there was no fire blanket, had no battery in it.

There were no smoke detectors in one of the ground floor bedrooms and two of the first-floor rooms.

Fox was sentenced to four months in prison suspended for two years and ordered to do 250 hours of unpaid work. He was also fined him £25,000 to be paid by the end of August next year, with 15 months in prison in default, and £24,300 costs.

The judge said, “The ensuring of proper fire precautions in properties in multi-occupation is a matter of life and death. It is no exaggeration to say that, it is a literal truth.

“But at the age of 55 you are a man of good character, and I accept you seek to act as a responsible businessman.

“This is far from a reckless disregard for the safety of tenants, but you did not take the precautions you should have taken.”

Woman jailed for nine months for £80,000 benefit fraud

A woman from Truro has been jailed for benefits fraud after claiming that she was single while living with her husband.

Helen Salunga, 47, pleaded guilty to four counts of defrauding the Department for Work and Pensions, Cornwall Council and HM Revenue and Customs.

Truro Crown Court heard that Salunga fraudulently claimed £80,506.48 in total.

The first charge related to tax credits claimed from 2009 to 2014 when she told the authorities she was a single person although she was living with her husband who earned between £17,000 to £23,000 per year.

Truro Crown Court further heard that Salunga alleged she was single on her claim for housing benefits between 2010 to 2014, falsified pay slips to help her claims and falsely claimed she was unemployed for Jobseekers’ Allowance in March 2013.

The money was reportedly sent abroad to the Philippines for her family’s medical expenses.

Judge Simon Carr said: “You pleaded guilty at the first opportunity to a very significant benefit fraud. I accept completely that you were sending all or some of the money to family in the Philippines.

“While having sympathy for that situation when a limited public financial purse is used in a way it is not intended it could prevent others receiving benefits they should.”

Salunga was sentenced to a nine-month prison sentences for all four charges.

Man aged 80, admits 10 year benefit fraud

An 80-year-old man has received a six-month suspended prison sentence for a £19,000 ten-year benefit fraud.

However, upon further investigation about his pension credit claims, benefit officers discovered he and his wife had not claimed all the social security they were entitled to. As a result they increased their benefits.

York magistrates heard that James Barker pleaded guilty to three charges of benefit fraud committed over ten years involving three different benefits.

Barker was jailed for 24 weeks, but York magistrates suspended the prison sentence for two years on condition he doesn’t commit any offences. Barker was further ordered to pay £85 prosecution costs.

Barker’s solicitor Vicky Latham said, “It was his genuine, albeit mistaken belief it was employment he didn’t have to declare.”

Ms Latham added that both Barker and his wife, who will celebrate their 56th wedding anniversary this year, suffered several health problems.

The couple, who were each other’s carers, had not been aware that this entitled them to attendance allowances until benefit officers had told them so following the investigation in his offences

Mother of five jailed after £56K benefit fraud

A mother of four falsely claimed benefits to buy a second home to get her children into a better school, Ipswich Crown Court heard.

Mother-of-four Rejiya Mukith from Ipswich, obtained a mortgage for the £58,080 property in 2003, yet later used £35,000 in income support she dishonestly obtained by lying about her financial situation to pay for the home.

Mukith went on to rent out the second property, now worth £150,000, for £450 a month but didn’t tell the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) about this when she began claiming income support on 2005.

The court heard that Mukith lied so her children could get into the town’s Northgate High School which is rated Good by Ofsted.

Mukith was subsequently handed a 12-month prison sentence suspended for two years.

Judge Rupert Overbury said, “You committed a fraud on the benefits system over several years netting some £35,000.

“You used the money to purchase a second property in order that your children might receive the best education you thought to be available to them.”