A WOMBWELL woman has been ordered to pay back over £16,000 after being found guilty of benefit fraud over a period of 18 months.
Lindsey Jones, 34, of Blythe Street, Wombwell, admitted failing to inform both Barnsley Council and the Department for Work and Pensions of her true circumstances when she appeared before Barnsley magistrates on January 31 this year. The case was adjourned until February 21.
Benefit teams launched an investigation after Miss Jones failed to declare that her partner, who was working, was living with her while she continued to claim Income Support, Employment Support Allowance, Housing and Council Tax Benefit.
In May 2012, Miss Jones admitted her partner had moved in with her following the birth of their daughter two months earlier. She denied he had lived there previously. In August 2012 she provided an alternative address for her partner, but Rotherham Council revealed this information to be false.
It was found that Lindsey Jones had failed to declare her partner living with her from November 2010 and as such had received in excess of £16,000 of benefit payments to which she was not entitled.
By failing to declare her true financial circumstances between November 2010 and May 2012, Miss Jones obtained £7059.81 in Housing Benefit, £1063.41 in Council Tax Benefit, £5718.42 in Income Support and £3146.76 in Employment Support Allowance,
She pleaded guilty to all charges of furnishing a false claim form and failing to inform changes in her circumstances to both Barnsley Council and the DWP. The Court considered her offences to be serious fraud on the public purse.
Jones was handed six weeks custodial sentence on each offence, to run concurrent, suspended for 12 months, during which time she must also carry out 100 hours unpaid work. She was ordered to pay £200 costs and must repay the overpaid benefit back to the authorities.