16 Apr 2015

Woman stole £17k benefits

A 48-year-old Aughton woman was given a suspended jail sentence after illegally claiming £17,082.60 in benefits.

At Ormskirk Magistrates Court Deborah Coates admitted to failing to notify West Lancashire Borough Council's Benefits Service and the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) she had savings of £25,000 when she applied for housing benefit in July 2011. The legal limit for savings a claimant may have to qualify for benefits is £16,000.

Between July 2011 and September 2012 Ms Coates was overpaid housing benefit of £8,375.91 and council tax benefit of £1,911.80. Between July 2011 and December 2012, she was overpaid employment support allowance (ESA) of £6,794.89.

Ms Coates, who has repaid the falsely claimed ESA and housing benefit, was sentenced to 16 weeks imprisonment, suspended for 12 months, and issued with a 12 month community order.

She must also pay £315 court costs and an £80 victim surcharge. The council tax benefit she has falsely claimed is still outstanding, and the council will pursue this.

This benefit fraud case was uncovered by the Council's Benefits Investigation Team, who worked in conjunction with DWP investigators. Anyone who falsely claims Social Security Benefits must repay them in full.


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