Single mum made false cash claims

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UNDERCOVER surveillance outside the house of a Doncaster mum exposed her as a benefits cheat, a court heard.

The partner of Alison Michelle Powell was seen leaving her house and going to work on several occasions even though she was claiming to be a single mother-of-three.

Doncaster Crown Court was told the 31-year-old falsely claimed more than 16,300 before her secret was uncovered by the Department for Work and Pensions investigators and she pleaded guilty to making false representations.

Laura Addy, prosecuting for the DWP, said Powell's claim for income support and housing benefits was not fraudulent when she started but it became false over a two-year period from June 2006.

She was found out when the DWP was informed her partner, Ian Osborne, was giving her address in Windhill Crescent, Mexborough, as his home for employment purposes.

Powell did not declare his presence when she was asked if anyone was living with her.

A 10-day surveillance operation in the summer of 2008 established that Mr Osborne left the property each day go to his place of work.

Records at the school Powell's children attended showed he was a contact if school staff needed to call the family.

Mr Osborne had applied for credit using her address.

When Powell was first interviewed he said he wasn't living with her but had stayed late some nights while they were playing games. He went on to admit he had been living with her.

Miss Addy said Powell had since been made to pay back about 3,000 of the overpayment through deductions from her benefits - a scheme which would continue at the rate of 100 a month.

Defence counsel Michael Cane-Soothill said the defendant was having family difficulties and was now working with Together Women on a voluntary basis.

The judge sentenced Powell to carry out 150 hours of unpaid work for the community and made no order for court costs.