Wellingborough benefit cheat sentenced

Wellingborough Council's Swanspool House offices
Wellingborough Council's Swanspool House offices
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A Wellingborough woman has been sentenced to five months in prison, suspended for a year, after fraudulently claiming more than £16,500 in benefits.

Jemimah Chambers, 34, of John Lea Way, didn’t declare that her employed partner had moved into the family home, and continued to claim income support, housing benefit, and council tax benefit.

Wellingborough Council launched an investigation with the Department for Work and Pensions after information was received that her partner, who has a full-time job, was living with her.

The investigation discovered that Chambers and her partner had moved together to John Lea Way in December 2010.

Chambers was interviewed under caution at Wellingborough Council’s offices and was charged to appear at Wellingborough Magistrates Court, where she elected to be tried at Northampton Crown Court.

Chambers pleaded guilty to two offences; one of dishonestly failing to declare to the borough council that her partner was living with her in order to obtain housing and council tax benefit, and one of dishonestly failing to declare to the Department for Work and Pensions that her partner was living with her in order to obtain income support.

She was sentenced to 20 weeks custody for each offence, to run concurrently but suspended for 12 months, as well as 120 hours of unpaid work. A three-month supervision order was also imposed.

Cllr Paul Bell, leader of Wellingborough Council, said: “It is very important that we are notified immediately of changes in circumstances, such as a partner moving in, as it can affect benefit entitlements. Benefit fraud costs the taxpayer a lot of money, at a time when honest people are really feeling the pinch. Our track record at investigating and uncovering fraud is excellent and we work very hard to catch the people who commit it. We will continue to do whatever we can to prosecute those who think they can get away with cheating the system.”

Chambers had fraudulently claimed £3,186.50 income support, £11,942.52 housing benefit and £1,383.83 council tax benefit, making a total overpayment of £16,512.85.

Wellingborough Council will pursue full recovery of the overpayment.