Woman claimed £5k more in housing benefit than she was entitled to

Magistrates' Court
Magistrates' Court
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A woman who overclaimed £5,600 in housing benefit had failed to tell the authorities about a change in her working hours, a court has heard.

Pamela Howes, a divorced mum-of-four, from Tinniswood, Ashton-on-Ribble, Preston, admitted dishonestly failing to notify Preston City Council of a change in circumstances, namely an increase in her paid income, which affected the housing benefit she had claimed from 2012.

It led to overpayments of £5,657 being made.

The 62-year-old, who has worked at the Bet Fred outlet at Lane Ends, Ashton, as a cashier since November 2012, had taken on more hours to help her bosses after a staff member was dismissed, the court was told.

However, she had not declared the increase to the authorities between March 2016 and January 2017 and between April 2013 and April 2016.

She had admitted the offences from the outset and had shown remorse, prosecutors said.

Defending, Sephton Lee said: “She earns the minimum wage.

“The offences arises out of her stepping into the breach.

“It had gone straight out of her head to notify the council.

“She is of impeccable character and is mortified to be before the court at the age of 62.

“She asks me to apologise unreservedly on her behalf.

“She is considering living with one of her children to save rent payments to pay off the amount quicker.”

The woman is already paying the amount back through deductions in her ongoing payments.

The magistrates’ bench gave her a two year conditional discharge and she must pay a £20 surcharge.