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Thursday, 30 October 2014

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Carlisle single mum admits 18 month benefits fraud

A single mother claimed more than £6,000 in council and housing tax benefit over a year and a half.

At Carlisle Magistrates’ Court, Amy Balfry, 29, of Knowe Park Avenue, Stanwix, Carlisle, entered guilty pleas to three counts of benefit fraud.

Clare Liddle, prosecuting, described how the defendant began claiming the benefits in February 2009 on the basis that she was working part-time and had one dependant child.

But she had failed to notify the authorities when at a later date her earnings rose from her original monthly earnings of £443 to up to £1,750 by late September last year.

Her weekly child care costs also reduced from £139 to just £40 because her daughter had started school.

But she didn’t notify Carlisle City Council of the changes in her circumstances.

The total overpayment of benefits amounted to £6,210.

Gail Heard, defending, said: “She’s a 29-year-old lady and a single parent who lives alone with her five-year-old daughter.

“She does not instruct me to put forward any excuses for her behaviour because she realises there can be no excuse.”

The lawyer said there was no suggestion that Balfry’s claims were fraudulent from the outset; it was simply a failure to tell the authorities of her changed circumstances as required by law, which led to the overpayments.

Mrs Heard said at the time of the offences her client’s personal life was “extremely chaotic” and she had suffered from ill health.

She had accepted responsibility for her actions and expressed remorse.

Judge Gerald Chalk imposed fines and costs of £475, to be paid at £10 per week. Balfry will also have to repay all the overpaid benefit.

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