Mum in £48,000 benefits fraud is spared jail

Burnley Crown Court.Burnley Crown Court.
Burnley Crown Court.
A single mother who got almost £50,000 in benefits while she was said to have had more than £43,000 in the bank, was spared jail.

Sophia Hussain (41) told the authorities she had no income other than child benefits and carried out a four year fraud.

But, inquiries revealed she had the cash in a Santander savings account while she was receiving four types of financial support from the public purse.

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Hussain, a mother-of-four, claimed she had put the money aside for her eldest child who has learning difficulties.

The defendant had earlier admitted allegations of dishonestly failing to notify a change of circumstances - relating to the Department for Work and Pensions and to Pendle Council - by not declaring she had savings in excess of the permitted limit.

Hussain, of Halifax Road, Nelson, had been committed for sentence to Burnley Crown Court by the town’s magistrates. She appeared in the dock in front of Recorder John Jones and received 12 months in prison, suspended for two years, with 12 months’ supervision. The defendant was ordered to pay £85 costs.

The lower court had earlier been told how the total overpayment to the defendant was £48,747,18.

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Hussain claimed income support between May, 2010, and July, 2011; income-based employment support allowance she wasn’t entitled to between July, 2011, and November, 2014; housing benefit between May, 2010, and November, 2014, and council tax benefit between May, 2010, and March, 2013.

Ben Leech (defending) said the defendant was the primary carer for her four children.

Mr Leech said: “Her eldest son was diagnosed very early in life with severe learning difficulties, ADHD, a number of problems which led him to receive disability living allowance. I’m told that much of the money was put aside for the benefit of her son.”

Mr Leech said Hussain was paying back the money at £120 a month, adding: “She has has found herself in significant debt because of these proceedings.”