Suspended prison sentence for £20,000 benefit fraud

Coun Peter Wilson
Coun Peter Wilson

A woman has been given a suspended prison sentence after admitting benefit fraud totalling more than £20,000.

Preston Magistrates’ Court was told Mary Armstrong, of Chorley Road, Whittle-le-Woods, claimed income support from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) in 2007 on the basis that she was single and unable to work because of illness.

She also qualified for housing benefit and council tax benefit from Chorley Council.

However, the court heard Armstrong failed to disclose she was living with her partner, Stephen Dickinson.

She also failed to promptly notify the council that her partner lived with her.

Armstrong, 58, pleaded guilty to three charges and was given a 12-week jail sentence, suspended for 12 months.

She also received a 12-month supervision order and must pay an £80 victim surcharge.

Dickinson was found guilty of causing or allowing her to fail to promptly notify the DWP of a change in circumstances, which he knew would affect her claim for benefit.

He must pay a £100 fine, £80 costs and £20 victim surcharge.

Steps are being taken to recover the benefit overpaid.

Coun Peter Wilson said: “Once again we have someone who now has a criminal record for receiving benefits she wasn’t entitled to because she had not let us know when her circumstances changed.”