Gloucester Crown Court-2

Fairford residents sentenced for Universal Credit and Council Tax Reduction fraud

A couple from Fairford who fraudulently claimed over £23,500 in Universal Credit from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) and a further £2,000 reduction in their Council Tax have been sentenced at Gloucester Crown Court.  

At their trial in January 2024, Kelly Nicholls (30) and her partner Antony Wilkins (34), formerly of Park Close in Fairford, pleaded guilty to a charge of dishonestly failing to notify changes in their circumstances which affected their joint entitlement to Universal Credit. Nicholls also pleaded guilty to a similar offence in connection with Council Tax Reduction.  

Nicholls and Wilkins had been claiming Council Tax Reduction from Cotswold District Council from March 2020 based on information received from the Department for Work in respect of Universal Credit. This confirmed that, except for her Universal Credit, no income or savings were declared to the Council.

Following an investigation by officers from both the Department for Work and Pensions and the Council’s Counter Fraud and Enforcement Unit, Nicholls was interviewed in July 2022. She admitted that she had failed to declare that she had been breeding dogs and selling the puppies for £700 to £750 each. 

As a result of failing to declare this income, they were overpaid £23,683.25 Universal Credit from the start of their claim in 2020 to December 2022. Nicholls also received an incorrect reduction in her Council Tax of £2,083.43 over the same period. 

At Gloucester Crown Court on 1 March 2024, the couple, who were prosecuted jointly by the DWP and Cotswold District Council, confirmed that they are repaying £100 a month to the DWP and have entered into a similar arrangement with the Council to repay the outstanding Council Tax.  

Miss Nicholls was sentenced for both the Universal Credit and Council Tax Reduction fraud and fined £100, ordered to pay £3,500 in compensation and pay a £90 Victim Surcharge. 

Wilkins, who was prosecuted for the Universal Credit offences only, received a Community Order of 12 months and 120 hours unpaid work. 

Councillor Juliet Layton, Cabinet Member for Planning and Regulatory Services, said: "It's disheartening to see individuals take advantage of systems designed to assist those facing hardship. Fraudulent claims not only undermine the integrity of support programs but also divert resources away from those who truly require assistance.  

“The collaborative efforts of the Department for Work and Pensions and the Council's Counter Fraud and Enforcement Unit are commendable in uncovering and addressing such deceit. We encourage anyone with concerns about fraudulent activity to come forward, as safeguarding public funds is a collective responsibility." 

The investigation was conducted jointly by officers from the Department for Work and Pensions and the Counter Fraud and Enforcement Unit at Cotswold District Council.  

Members of the public can contact Cotswold District Council with any concerns about council tax or benefit fraud by emailing the Counter Fraud and Enforcement Unit at

Contact Information

Cotswold District Council Communications Team

Notes to editors

Nicholls and Wilkins now live at Oakley Court in Kempsford.