Higham Ferrers benefit cheat prosecuted

Wellingborough Council's Swanspool House
Wellingborough Council's Swanspool House

Two Northamptonshire councils have teamed up to prosecute a woman for fraudulently claiming nearly £12,000 in benefits.

Emma Mawdsley, 31, of Simpson Avenue, Higham Ferrers, didn’t declare that her employed partner had moved in with her while she was claiming housing benefit, council tax benefit and income support.

Her partner first moved in when she was living in Butts Road, Wellingborough, and was still living with her when she later moved to Higham Ferrers.

Information was received that Mawdsley hadn’t declared her change in circumstances and was continuing to claim benefits, so a joint investigation was conducted between the Department for Work and Pensions, East Northamptonshire Council, and Wellingborough Council.

She was then interviewed under caution by fraud investigators and charged to appear at Wellingborough Magistrates Court.

After pleading guilty to three offences – failing to declare a change of circumstances whilst claiming income support, failing to declare a change in circumstances whilst claiming housing and council tax benefit, and making a false representation in order to obtain housing and council tax benefit – Mawdsley was sentenced to a community order to undertake 180 hours unpaid work and ordered to pay £85 costs and a £60 victim surcharge.

Tracey Plowright, from Wellingborough Council’s fraud investigations team, 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. We will continue to do whatever we can to uncover it and prosecute those responsible.”

Mawdsley had fraudulently claimed £2,975.40 housing benefit and £523.85 council tax benefit with Wellingborough Council, and £2,941.47 housing benefit and £419.99 council tax benefit with East Northamptonshire Council, as well as £5,045.37 income support, making the total overpaid £11,906.08.