Curfew orders for women

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Two women have been given curfew orders after pleading guilty to fraudulently claiming money.

Margaret Walmsley, 52, of Greenwood, Clayton Brook, pleaded guilty to dishonestly claiming over £5,500 and Ann Wilding, 51, of Buckshaw Hall Close, Astley Village, pleaded guilty to claiming over £3,500 in two separate prosecutions brought by Chorley Council.

Magistrates heard that Walmsley had obtained over £5,500 after making false statements about her capital.

She completed two claim forms and failed to disclose on both forms that she had capital well in excess of the maximum amount.

In a separate case, heard on the same day, magistrates were told that Wilding had received more than £3,500 in benefits after failing to report that her earnings had increased.

Preston Magistrates were told that Wilding’s claim was initially correct but when she started to work regular extra hours she failed to tell the council that her earnings had increased.

The court was told the council only became aware of the change in Wilding’s circumstances when she reported that her earnings had reduced because she was off sick.

Councillor Peter Wilson, who oversees benefits at Chorley Council, said: “These cases demonstrate the importance of being honest when making a claim and telling us if your circumstances change in any way.

“The first one of these cases came to light through a data matching exercise, which identified an undisclosed amount in Margaret Walmsley’s name. When she was questioned she admitted to having a substantial amount of capital invested in several accounts, which had not previously been declared.

“In the second case, the council had only become aware of Ann Wilding’s circumstances when she reported that her earnings had reduced because she was off sick. However, when she provided her pay slips, it became clear that her reduced earnings were in fact higher than previously reported.

“Both women now have a criminal record and have had to repay the overpayments. Anyone who is claiming any benefits should contact the council immediately if your circumstances change and please be honest to avoid a criminal record.”

The court was told that Margaret Walmsley did not have an extravagant lifestyle and had not had a holiday for over 10 years. She has now repaid the overpayment in full.

Walmsley was given credit of an early plea and her previous good character and was sentenced to a three month curfew order and ordered to pay costs of £85 and a victim surcharge of £60.

In the other case, the court heard that Wilding was in rent arrears and was in danger of losing her home. She has now entered into an arrangement with the council to repay the overpaid benefit.

Credit was given to Wilding for her early plea and previous good character. She was sentenced to a curfew order for 40 days and ordered to pay £30 costs and victim surcharge of £60.