Burnley mum in £43,000 benefit fraud

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A BURNLEY mum who claimed more than £43,000 through benefit fraud has been spared prison.

Tracy Ashe (43) profited from an extra £43,038 in benefits over seven years failing to notify the Department of Work and Pensions that her partner had moved into her home in Waddington Avenue.

She gained added income support between 2006-08, council tax and housing tax between 2006-12 and Employment Support Allowance from 2009 until 2012, Burnley magistrates heard.

Mr Andrew Robinson (prosecuting) said, although the scam was not carried out from the outset and the original application was bona fide, she had been claiming extra income for a significant period of time.

Mr Jeremy Coleman (defending) said Ashe, who has a six-year-old daughter, was sorry for what she had done and would pay back everything she owed. “When she was interviewed by police the first time she was petrified and didn’t give up everything straight away.

“She asked to be re-interviewed around four weeks later and then told them everything. This has been hanging over her a year now.

“Part of her difficulty was, and this is not an excuse but more an explanation as to why it happened, was that her partner had a bad gambling problem which impacted upon their financial situation. This meant their situation was not always stable and he was coming and going a lot.”

The chairman of the Bench said: “We feel these offences are so serious a custodial sentence would be appropriate. However, we are going to give a suspended sentence.

“The application was good originally but then you’re circumstances changed.

“You have been very reckless in this venture.

“You do have plans in place for repayment which if we sent you to custody would be wiped out.”

She was sentenced to 24 weeks in prison, suspended for a year.