Woman swindled thousands in benefits

Tuesday 05 February 2013 Updated: 06/02 15:10

A WARNDON woman who falsely claimed more than £10,000 in benefits has been given a suspended jail sentence.

Julie Fox, 46, of Carnforth Drive, had been claiming Income Support, Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit which she was not entitled to.

She pleaded guilty to two charges of benefit fraud on January 31 and was given a two month custodial sentence on each of the charges, to run concurrently, suspended for 18 months.

Fox was also handed an eight-week curfew order between the hours of 3pm to 3am and ordered to pay costs of £100 as well as repaying all of the money she swindled.

Her sentencing followed a joint investigation carried out by Wychavon District Council and the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) which found Fox had failed to declare she had savings in excess of the amount that allowed her to claim benefits.

She had falsely completed application forms and claimed to have just one bank account.

But following a routine data match it was discovered that she had seven accounts and over £16,000 in savings.

Her failure to report her correct circumstances meant she incorrectly received Income Support of £9,317.40, Housing Benefit of £583.10 and Council Tax Benefit of £109. Over a six year period this amounted to a total loss to public funds of £10,009.50.

She pleaded guilty to charges relating to failing to report a change in her circumstances, and making a false statement on a DWP application form.

In mitigation, Fox’s solicitors stated she suffered with cerebral palsy and epilepsy following a fall at the age of eight. They added that Fox had a fear of not being able to look after herself in the future when she gets older and that she had “squirrelled away” the money from her benefits.

But District Judge Cadbury said Fox had been thoroughly dishonest from the outset and that it was a serious matter.

Speaking after the hearing, Nick Jefferies, Head of Shared Services at Wychavon District Council, said: “We consider benefit fraud to be a serious matter and this case sends a clear message that if you try to cheat on benefits you will get caught. We work with other agencies, including the Department for Work and Pensions, to make sure that no one is claiming more than they are entitled to.”

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