Nelson scammer pockets £16,000 in benefit fraud operation

A Nelson benefits fraudster allegedly got almost £16,000 after not letting on that her partner had moved in with her, a court heard.

Friday, 29th September 2017, 11:24 am
Updated Wednesday, 4th October 2017, 3:14 pm
The prosecution claimed the defendant, Maxine Kirk, had carried out the scam for almost three years.

Mother-of-one Maxine Kirk, who the prosecution claimed had carried out the scam for almost three years, insisted it was about two-and-a-half years. She said he had gone to live with her to keep her company.

Burnley magistrates heard how Kirk's partner William Sutcliffe was "bringing in money" and she did not declare it.

The defendant, of Edward Street, admitted two counts of failing to notify a change of circumstances to the Department for Work and Pensions for income support and to Pendle Borough Council for housing benefit.

Kirk, carer for her disabled teenage daughter, has no previous convictions. She was given a 12-month community order with a 30-day rehabilitation activity requirement. The money is being repaid.

Prosecutor Mr Matthew Siddall said the crown's case was that the offences were committed between the middle of August 2013 and the end of July 2016. Kirk was maintaining a common household and didn't declare that the other person was bringing in money. She allegedly got £15,751 that she was not entitled to.

The hearing was told Kirk pleaded guilty on the basis she and Mr Sutcliffe were together from February 2014 and the amount of money she got was less than the prosecution claimed.

A probation officer who interviewed the defendant said her mother and ex-partner of 16 years had both died, she found it hard to be on her own and her new partner moved in "just to keep her company and support her."

Her daughter's disability living allowance had been stopped and she had had to rely on family members to help her out. The officer continued: "Her partner is in employment, but he has debts and loans, leaving him unable to support Ms Kirk."

Miss Cathryn Fell, defending, said: "She was not living the life of luxury and has been strapped in respect of cash. It's certainly somebody you will never see before the court again and she truly apologises for what's happened."