A grandmother has narrowily avoided being sent to prison for a benefit fraud which cost the taxpayer more than £35,000.
Susan Jepson, 50, of Clough Lane, Mixenden, had originally applied for benefits as a lone parent but for almost six years had failed to tell the authorities she was living with a partner, a self-employed electrician.
Proscutor Louise Amzi told Bradford Crown Court on Tuesday the overpayment of mainly housing benefit and council tax benefit was £35,568.
In August Jepson, who does voluntary work for a kidney charity, admitted a series of offences related to her failure to notify the authorities of a change in her circumstances and fraudulently claiming jobseeker’s allowance for a six-week period last year. When questioned about the offences last year she said she had been in a relationship for 12 years, but they had started living together in August 2005. She claimed her partner - who she is now no longer with - did not help with household expenses, only paying for Sky television.
Lawyer Kieran Green, for Jepson, said she had expressed remorse for the offending in a letter to the council and had offered to repay the money at £10 a week. Recorder Felicity Davies said she came very close to sending Jepson to prison immediately but decided to suspend the 18-week sentence for two years.
Jepson will also do 240 hours’ unpaid work for the community and be subject to an 8pm to 6am curfew for the next three months. She was also ordered to pay £300 towards prosecution costs.
She now faces civil proceedings to recover the overpayments.