A MAN has been jailed for fraudulently attempting to claim a £25,000 Covid support grant from a Welsh council.

Shaun Ceri James, 28, of Gardners Lane, Neath, received custodial sentences totalling 24 months at Swansea Crown Court on Monday, March 28, in connection with a fraudulent attempt to claim a £25,000 Covid grant aimed at helping businesses stay afloat during lockdown.

James had provided fake sales invoices for cars and a forged lease for a property in Port Talbot in order to attempt to claim a Local Authority Covid Grant of £25,000. He claimed to have set up a car sales showroom in February 2020 when in fact it was vacant, and the new owner did not purchase it until April of that year.

Head of planning and public protection at Neath Port Talbot County Borough Council Ceri Morris said: “This sentence should act as a warning to others that those who wilfully attempt to defraud members of the public or the authority will be prosecuted.

“These grants were put in place in order to ensure legitimate business were able to survive at a time of national crisis. False claims put extra pressures on those administering these claims prolonging the process for legitimate traders. The cost of such claims will be felt by consumers for many years.”

James had previously pleaded guilty to two charges under the Fraud Act 2006.

Judge Geraint Walters sentenced him to 15 months in prison, and activated a suspended sentence which James was handed in March 2019 for previous convictions of dishonest trading, ordering him to serve a further consecutive period of nine months in prison, resulting in a total sentence of 24 months immediate custody.