Mum in court on £16,000 benefits fraud

Burnley Magistrates Court.
Burnley Magistrates Court.

A Burnley mum claimed more than £16,000 in handouts she wasn’t entitled to after not telling the authorities her estranged partner had moved back in, a court heard.

Rachel Morgan (29) who had claimed benefits as a single person, didn’t let on that she had been living with Benjamin Healey for over two years. She was supposed to notify the Department for Work and Pensions and Burnley Council she was reconciled with the father of her two children - even though he had been a “drug addicted criminal” who contributed not a penny to the household, was in and out of her life and would just disappear and then come back.

He had gone missing after going out drinking the weekend before the hearing, Burnley magistrates were told. Morgan, now a care assistant, sobbed in the dock as her solicitor told the hearing she put up with her partner’s behaviour as she felt she couldn’t do any better.

She was accompanied to court by her partner’s mother, who, said Morgan’s lawyer, confirmed what her son was like. Morgan, who has never been in trouble before, admitted three counts of dishonestly failing to notify a change in circumstances, involving income support from the DWP and council tax benefits and housing benefits from Burnley Council, between February 1, 2013 and March 15, 2015

She was given a 12-month community order, with supervision and was told to pay £85 costs and a £60 victim surcharge.

Prosecutor Andrew Robinson told the hearing Morgan made a claim for income support from 2011 and it was not a fraud at the outset.

From February 1st, 2013, it was accepted she maintained a common household with her partner. They had two children together - one was born in 2011 and the other in 2014. She failed to notify the change in her circumstances. Mr Robinson said the total overpayment was £16,382 - £7,500 in income support, £8,700 in housing benefits and £121 in council tax benefit. She would have to pay the money back. Morgan, of Lawrence Avenue, Burnley, had no previous convictions.

Keith Rennison (defending) said she had claimed benefits as a single person with a child to support when she had split from her partner.