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Dales woman falsely claimed almost £10,000 benefits

An Ashbourne woman who dishonestly claimed benefits totalling £9,926 has been sentenced to a 12 month Community Order with 100 hours of unpaid work.

Sally Hodson-Ridgway, aged 44, of 25 George Street, Ashbourne, pleaded guilty at Derby Magistrates' Court to failing to inform Derbyshire Dales District Council of a change in her employment circumstances when for two years she held two different jobs with local cleaning and hotel companies.

The defendant, who has to pay back the overpayment and also pay the District Council's full costs in the case of £510, started claiming benefits from April 2010, at which time she declared sole employment with the cleaning company at a rate of £107.94 a fortnight.

But an investigation by council fraud officers revealed that Hodson-Ridgway failed to inform the District Council when in August 2010 she also took a job with the hotel company.

She went on to falsely claim £8,103.03 housing benefit and £1,823.49 council tax benefit.

After sentencing on Friday (24 October), a District Council spokesperson said:

"This was a serious level of social security fraud over a long period of time. The District Council adopts a zero tolerance policy to benefit fraud because it is not a victimless crime - benefit thieves take money intended for the most vulnerable in our society.

"We rely on anonymous referrals from the general public to enable our staff to successfully investigate and bring those guilty of offences to justice. We welcome any information about someone who is claiming benefit to which they may not be entitled through our Benefit Fraud Hotline on 01629 761 330, where all calls are treated in complete confidence."

The formal charges against Sally Hodson-Ridgway were:

  1. Between 20 August 2010 and 31 March 2013, the Accused knowing that there had been a change of circumstance affecting her entitlement to Housing and Council Tax benefit, namely that she commenced employment and was in receipt of income from Travelodge from 20 August 2010, did dishonestly fail to give prompt notice of such a change in the prescribed manner to the prescribed person namely Derbyshire Dales District Council and as a result received an overpayment of Council Tax Benefit and Housing Benefit.Contrary to section 111A(1A) of the Social Security Administration Act 1992 as inserted by the Social Security Administration (Fraud) Act 1997, s13, as amended by the Child Support, pensions and Social Security Act 2000, Sch. 6 and the Security Fraud Act 2001, Sch. 1.
  2. Between 1 April 2013 and 24 July 2013, the Accused knowing that there had been a change of circumstance affecting her entitlement to Housing benefit, namely that she commenced employment and was in receipt of income from Travelodge from 20 August 2010, did dishonestly fail to give prompt notice of such a change in the prescribed manner to the prescribed person namely Derbyshire Dales District Council and as a result received an overpayment of Housing Benefit. Contrary to section 111A(1A) of the Social Security Administration Act 1992 as inserted by the Social Security Administration (Fraud) Act 1997, s13, as amended by the Child Support, pensions and Social Security Act 2000, Sch. 6 and the Security Fraud Act 2001, Sch. 1.

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