Leverington woman admits £37,000 benefit fraud

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A 40-year-old woman from Leverington has been given a 12-month community order and told she must do 200 hours of unpaid work after admitting falsely claiming more than £37,000 in benefits.

Louise Briggs, of Gorefield Road, pleaded guilty at Cambridge Crown Court to two charges of failing to report a change in her circumstances.

Formerly of Henson Road, Wisbech, she had claimed Housing Benefit, Council Tax Benefit and Income Support as a single parent. Following an anonymous tip-off, a joint investigation led by Fenland Council revealed that from May 2008 she had not been living at Henson Road but had moved in with her partner in Leverington who was in full-time work.

Doreen Hooper, aged 67, of Henson Road, March, was found guilty at Cambridge Crown Court of two counts of failing to report a change in her circumstances that resulted in her receiving more than £9,000 in benefits to which she was not entitled.

She was given a conditional discharge on account of her age and previous good character but ordered to pay £500 costs to the council and a £15 victim surcharge

Mrs Hooper lived in rented property in March and claimed Pension Credit, Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit. In 2010 she bought a property with money given to her by her father but failed to declare it. Her father lived there until he died in 2012.

She pleaded not guilty, saying she had not known she had to report the change and had not regarded the property as hers. But under cross-examination she admitted she had known she owned it and it would affect her benefit entitlement.

The false claim was uncovered when the council noted that she was paying the full Council Tax on the property she owned, but was getting Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit for another March address.