By Gary Smee 12/04 Updated: 12/04 12:10
A WOMAN has been ordered to pay back more than £15,000 after pleading guilty to benefit fraud.
Claire Hale of Fulbert Road in Pershore admitted claiming housing benefit, council tax benefit and income support for the property she rents after failing to declare she was living with her partner and children at the same address from January, 2009.
The 21-year-old, who appeared at Worcester Magistrates Court last Thursday (April 5), was interviewed about the matter last June but denied that she had previously been living together with her partner and claimed he had only moved in within the last month.
The investigation found in total there had been overpayments of £4,127.11 in income support and a total of £11,633.40 in housing benefit and council tax benefit.
Hale was sentenced to a community service order, which involves carrying out 120 hours of unpaid work. The prosecutors for the Department for Work and Pensions were awarded costs of £100.
Hale will also have to fully repay all the benefits to which she was not entitled.
Nick Jefferies, head of shared services at Wychavon District Council, said: "This case sends a clear message that if you try to cheat on benefits you will get caught.
"We work with other agencies, including HM Revenue and Customs and the Department for Work and Pensions, to make sure that no one is claiming more than they are entitled to.
"Remember, if someone is cheating on benefits, that means higher bills for everyone else."
Anyone claiming housing or council tax benefits and unsure as to whether or not they are still entitled to receive them, contact Wychavon District Council on 01905 822744 for advice or visit www.wychavon.gov.uk/benefits.
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