A SKELMERSDALE woman who cheated the benefit system of over £25,000 by claiming to be a lone parent has been given a 12-month Community Order and ordered to repay all the overpayments she received.
Nicola Kelly, 35, of Enstone, was sentenced on October 16 at Ormskirk Magistrates Court.
As part of the Community Order she will have to do 250 hours’ unpaid work.
Kelly failed to declare a change in her circumstances to West Lancashire Borough Council and the Department for Work & Pensions, namely that her working partner was living with her.
This case arose as a result of an initiative by the council's benefit investigation team. Enquiries confirmed Kelly's working partner had been living with her for a number of years, yet she had claimed Social Security Benefits as a lone parent.
Overpayments of £11,493.29 Housing Benefit, £2,546.45 Council Tax Benefit and £11,178.16 Income Support were identified covering the period June 2008 – November 2011.
Councillor David Westley, Portfolio holder for Resources and Transformation, said:
"West Lancashire Borough Council takes a zero-tolerance approach to benefit fraud because it is stealing taxpayers’ money. This case sends out a firm message that benefit fraud is a serious crime and people who try to cheat the system will be dealt with by the courts.”