A woman faces a bill for £9,500 after she claimed benefits while keeping it secret that her live-in partner was supporting the family financially.
Ruth Evans, 37, claimed housing benefit and income support but failed to disclose that her partner had joined the household.
By falsely claiming that she was a lone parent on a low income, she received £8,932 before her lies were discovered by Cheshire East Council’s benefit investigations team.
Evans, of Platt Avenue, Sandbach, admitted one charge of failing to advise Cheshire East Council and the Department for Work and Pensions that she had a resident partner when she appeared at South and East Cheshire Magistrates Court (on June 15, 2015).
Magistrates sentenced Evans to a 12-month community penalty with 80 hours’ unpaid work. She was also ordered to pay £520 costs and a £60 victim surcharge.
In addition, Evans will have to repay in full all the monies she fraudulently obtained.
The prosecution was brought by Cheshire East Council’s legal team.
Councillor Les Gilbert, Cheshire East Council’s Cabinet member for communities, said: “We are an enforcing Council and we are determined to stop fraudsters from helping themselves to money that belongs to law-abiding members of the public.
“So far this year, our benefit investigations team has identified £625,789 in fraudulently claimed housing benefit, Council Tax benefit, jobseekers’ allowance, income support and employment support allowance paid by Cheshire East Council and the Department for Work and Pensions. All of these monies are repayable.
“During the period 33 people have been prosecuted, 18 issued with administrative penalties or fines and 16 more cautioned for benefits offences and Blue Badge misuse.
“We have a zero-tolerance policy towards benefit fraud because we are determined to ensure that the benefits system works for people who really need help.
“Anyone who thinks they can get away with claiming benefits they are not entitled to is making a big mistake.
“They risk ending up with a criminal conviction for a serious offence of dishonesty and a big bill to repay the money they have falsely claimed.”
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 strictest confidence.
Alternatively, suspected fraud can be reported through the Council’s website at www.cheshireeast.gov.uk