A BENEFITS cheat who fraudulently claimed more than £18,000 in welfare cheques has been ordered to carry out 100 hours of community service.
Sarah Jayne Hutson, aged 38, admitted claiming excessive housing benefit, council tax credit and income support. Sheffield Crown Court heard Hutson, of Gregg House Road, Shiregreen, started claiming benefits in 2002 as a sole adult living in a home with a child.
Simon Pallo, prosecuting for the Department of Work and Pensions, said Hutson married Roger Linfitt in 2005 and later failed to be honest when he moved into the home.
He said: “There were observations between September and October 2009 and the defendant was interviewed in October. She admitted she had married and that she and her husband had lived together since May 2008. The total overpayment for income support, housing benefit and council tax credit was £18,162.23.”
Judith Seaborne, defending, said: “She is currently paying back the overpayment by £50 a week out of benefits of £150 and is struggling.”
The judge, Recorder Patrick Palmer, sentenced Hutson to 100 hours of unpaid work.
He said: “This is a very serious offence. People can be sent to prison for it. But I’m prepared not to pose a custodial sentence.”
He said he accepted the claim ‘was not fraudulent from the outset’ and warned Hutson to ensure she carried out the community service.
After the hearing, Lord Freud, who is the Minister for Welfare Reform said: “When people receive benefits they enter into a contract to tell us of any change in their circumstances.”