A woman is facing a bill for nearly £2,000 and a community penalty after Cheshire East Council discovered that she had carried on claiming benefits despite becoming better off financially.
Stephanie Cargill, 26, of Ordsall Close, Sandbach, began claiming housing benefit, council tax benefit and council tax support in July 2012, saying she was working but on a low income.
However, in April 2014 investigators from Cheshire East Borough Council’s benefit fraud team found that Cargill’s earnings had increased and she had moved to a new home with a lower rent.
She admitted two offences of failing to report a change in circumstances in relation to her claims when she appeared before South and East Cheshire Magistrates’ Court on November 18, 2014.
Magistrates sitting at Crewe were told that she received state benefits totalling £1,654 that she was not entitled to.
They sentenced her to do 40 hours of unpaid work and ordered her to repay the overpaid benefits as well as costs of £300.
The prosecution was brought by Cheshire East Council’s legal team.
Councillor Peter Raynes, Cheshire East Council’s Cabinet member in charge of finance, said: “It is a big mistake for people to think they can get away with claiming benefits they are not entitled to. Although the sums of money they have obtained may not be large, they risk ending up with a criminal record.
“We have a zero tolerance policy on benefit fraud because we are determined to ensure that the benefits system works for the people who really need help.”
Residents can report people they suspect of benefit fraud by calling free on the confidential fraud hotline number 0800 389 2787. There is no need to give a name and calls are treated in the strictest confidence.
Alternatively, suspected fraud can be reported through the Council’s website at www.cheshireeast.gov.uk