Droitwich benefits fraudster forced to pay back £10,000 - The Droitwich Standard
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Droitwich benefits fraudster forced to pay back £10,000

Droitwich Editorial 14th Jul, 2014 Updated: 17th Oct, 2016

A DROITWICH woman will have to repay more than £10,000 in benefits which she falsely claimed over a 22-month period.

Amanda Jane Stretch (nee Fisher), of Shepherds Hill, failed to declare she was living with her partner whilst claiming housing benefit and council tax benefit as a lone parent for the property she rented.

Her partner, who she has since married, was also working during the time she was claiming – from June 2011 and April 2013.

When she was interviewed about the matter in February 2013, she admitted they were living together but claimed she had told people at the housing association who, she thought, would tell the council.

But, when the housing association was contacted and the records were checked, there was no record of her reporting it.

At Worcester Magistrates Court, the 35-year-old pleaded guilty to two charges of dishonestly failing to report a change in her circumstances.

Stretch, who declined legal representation and defended herself, said she was very sorry.

She said she knew she should have told the council straight away but was unsure as to if the relationship was going to work out.

Deputy District Judge Marshall said the amount of benefits which she was overpaid made it a very serious matter but, he said, he had taken into account that she admitted the offences and was repaying the money back.

He said, because of the spina bifida condition she suffered with and because she cared for two children, unpaid work would not be a suitable punishment.

Instead he sentenced her to a three-month curfew order which means she must reside in her home between the hours of 8pm and 6pm.

And he ordered her to pay £100 towards the prosecution costs and a £60 victim surcharge.

Following the conviction and sentence, partnership director Nick Jefferies, on behalf of Wychavon District Council, said benefit fraud was a crime and anyone in receipt of benefits needed to contact the council and report any changes in circumstances when they came about.

“The council likewise has a duty to protect public funds and this is all the more important in this time of austerity,” he added.

Anyine claiming housing or council tax support who is unsure of whether or not they are entitled to it can contact Wychavon District Council on 03004 560560.

Anyone wanting to report a case of benefit fraud to Wychavon District Council should email fraud@southworcestershirerevenues.gov.uk or call 01386 565280.

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