Woman in £2,700 benefit fraud claim
A Holcombe refuse collector fraudulently claimed more than £2,700 in benefits after covering up the fact that she and her landlord were living together as a couple.
Julie Waugh was a single parent when she first claimed for council tax, housing benefit and jobseeker's allowance.
But after benefit fraud investigators received information from the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) they discovered the defendant was living with her landlord who was also in paid work.
Waugh, 42, of Longleat Road, pleaded guilty to failing to notify Mendip District Council of a change of circumstances affecting her entitlement to council tax and housing benefit on November 1, 2010, by not saying her partner had moved in with her.
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She also admitted a similar offence involving a claim for jobseeker's allowance on the same date when she appeared before South Somerset and Mendip Magistrates.
Lesley Dolan, prosecuting for Mendip, said Waugh made a claim for housing benefit in September 2008 in relation to an address in Green Lane, Frome, where she was living at the time.
The defendant said she was a single parent and also made a claim for council tax benefit. When Waugh moved to her address in Holcombe she was the only named person on the rental agreement.
"On April 5, 2011, Mendip District Council had a request to undertake a joint investigation with the DWP about Waugh's claims," said Mrs Dolan.
"It was then discovered that Waugh and her partner, who was previously her landlord, were living together as husband and wife and had also been doing so while at the Frome address.
"Waugh denied living with the man saying they were just good friends and that he was living with his mother in Frome."
On May 17, 2011, Waugh told the council that she no longer needed to claim benefits as her partner was moving in with her.
Subsequent investigations revealed her partner had listed Waugh as his wife to his employer and had also been paying the television licence and Sky subscriptions for her address since 2010.
As a result the defendant had been overpaid a total of £2,346.66 in housing benefit and a further £396.68 of council tax benefit.
Probation officer Steve Cox said Waugh was extremely remorseful about the offence and very nervous about appearing in court.
He said: "She says she is willing to repay the money and works hard as a bin lady in Evercreech."
The magistrates sentenced her to a 12-month community order with a requirement to carry out 60 hours unpaid work and was also ordered to pay £516 costs.