Lee-Anne Jennings from Southampton claimed nearly £50,000 in income support as a single parent for almost five years, even though her husband had moved back in with her after a temporary separation.
Because of poor health, she received an 18-week sentence, suspended for 18 months, and 150 hours community service at a charity shop one day a week. She is paying the stolen benefit payments back voluntarily at a rate of £9 a week, which will take 106 years.
- These people do it for the money. So hit them in the pocket. It was money that motivated them, and a financial penalty will help to deter them.
Benefit thieves should have to repay twice what they've stolen, and should not be eligible for any further benefits – including tax credits - until they have. A confiscation order should be automatic and immediate.
If you don't punish people who are convicted of an easy crime, the offence will continue to look attractive.