A GAINSBOROUGH mother of three who claimed state benefits for five years without telling the authorities that she was living with her partner has been given a suspended jail sentence at Lincoln Crown Court.
Rebecca Smith made fraudulent claims for income support as well as both housing and council tax benefit.
Guy Napthine, prosecuting, said Smith made fraudulent claims totalling £43,000 but if she had been honest and declared her partner she would have been legitimately entitled to receive a significant amount of that money.
Mr Napthine said: “Her partner was in and out of prison throughout this period. There were times that he was living with her and claiming Job Seekers’ Allowance and times that he was living with her and he wasn’t.”
“If she had been entirely honest, she would have been entitled to something but I can’t put a figure on the amount.”
Smith, 30, of Sturgate Walk, Gainsborough, admitted two charges of failing to notify the authorities of a change of circumstance while claiming benefit between December 2003 and January 2009.
She was given a 32 week jail sentence suspended for two years with 12 months supervision.
Judge Michael Heath told her: “This went on for over five years. You received hard-earned taxpayers money. It was dishonest as you well knew.”
Steven Veitch, defending, said Smith is no longer with her partner and now legitimately receives benefits.
WLDC revenues, benefits and customer services manager Alan Robinson said: “When sentencing, the judge said Smith clearly knew her actions were dishonest and that hard working tax-payers money had been paid incorrectly to her. The benefit system is there to help people in times of need. West Lindsey District Council takes this issue seriously and we will take action against those people who abuse this system in this way.”
You can report benefit fraud by calling the council on 01427 676522. All calls are treated in the strictest of confidence.