A woman who fraudulently claimed more than £12,000 in benefits has been ordered to repay the money and do 70 hours’ unpaid community work.
Hazel Williamson, 45, of Melksham Close, Macclesfield, pleaded guilty at South and East Cheshire Magistrates’ Court (on November 6, 2014) to one charge of dishonestly failing to report a change in her circumstances that would have affected her entitlement to housing benefit and Council Tax benefit.
Magistrates sitting at Macclesfield heard that Williamson had claimed housing benefit and Council Tax benefit on the basis that she was a lone parent on a low income.
However, Cheshire East Council’s benefit investigations team found Williamson’s partner had joined her household in December 2010 and was supporting her financially.
She failed to report the change in her circumstances and continued to receive housing benefit and Council Tax benefit fraudulently for more than two years.
This led to Williamson being overpaid state benefits totalling £12,172.
Magistrates sentenced Williamson to a 12-month community order with a requirement to complete 70 hours’ unpaid work. She was also ordered to pay a £60 victim’s surcharge.
In addition to the sentence imposed by the Magistrates’ Court Williamson will have to repay in full the money that she fraudulently received from Cheshire East Council.
The prosecution was brought by Cheshire East Council’s legal team.
Councillor Peter Raynes, Cheshire East Council Cabinet member in charge of finance, said: “Benefit fraud is immoral and simply wrong. It will not be tolerated by Cheshire East.
“We are an enforcing Council and are firmly committed to ensuring such offenders are brought to justice. This prosecution, and others like it, sends out a clear message that we not tolerate benefit fraudsters cheating the system at the expense of honest taxpayers.”
If you think someone is committing benefit fraud, you can ring the confidential freephone fraud hotline on 0800 389 2787. You don’t have to give your name and your call will be treated in the strictest confidence.
Alternatively, you can report suspected fraud via the Council’s website at www.cheshireeast.gov.uk