Pregnant mum makes £17,223 in false claims

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A PREGNANT mum will be electronically tagged while serving a curfew for falsely claiming more than £17,000 in benefits.

Stacey Townsend (25, pictured), of Holbeach, was given a 24-week community order on Thursday.

She will be subject to a 12-week curfew and must stay at home between 8pm and 6am each day.

District Judge Richard Blake, sitting at Spalding Magistrates’ Court, also ordered Townsend to pay £100 costs.

The court heard the money overpaid will be recovered from Townsend by the agencies concerned.

Townsend, of Lawyers Close, pleaded guilty at a previous hearing to failing to notify the Department for Work and Pensions of a change in her circumstances affecting her entitlement to benefit, namely that she was living in the same house as husband and wife with Jason Carter, between June 2007 and February last year.

She admitted a similar charge of failing to notify the same change of circumstances to South Holland District Council between June 2007 and May last year.

Sacha Waxman, prosecuting for the Department for Work and Pensions, said Townsend began her claim for income support in 2006 as well as claims for council tax and housing benefit.

In February last year, Townsend notified the authorities of a change of circumstances, saying she had gained full-time employment and was living with her partner, Mr Carter.

Miss Waxman said enquiries with other agencies revealed there was a strong possibility Townsend and Mr Carter had lived together longer.

During an initial interview, Townsend denied that was the case but she owned up after other members of the family were interviewed and said she had lived with Mr Carter since June of 2007.

Miss Waxman said Townsend received a total of £17,223.17 which she was not entitled to.

Daven Naghen, mitigating, said had Townsend claimed working tax credits instead she would have been legally entitled to between £7,000 and £8,000 so the total loss to the taxpayer was not as great as it first appeared.

The court heard Townsend’s baby is due in September.