Mum fined in benefits case

A MUM fleeced more than £3,000 out of the welfare system after wrongly claiming benefits to pay for childcare she was no longer receiving.

Donna McLean, 31, was given housing and council tax benefits for herself and her three children.

A court heard the claim was based on McLean’s low income and the fact she was receiving working tax and child tax credits including childcare costs and child benefits.

Hartlepool Magistrates’ Court heard McLean, of Elphin Walk, Hartlepool, said childcare cost her £180 a week and she acknowledged the need to let Hartlepool Borough Council know of changes which may affect her claim.

Tony Mcnab, prosecuting on behalf of the council, said McLean informed the council on March 31 last year that she no longer paid childcare costs and hadn’t for the past one to two years.

But an investigation was carried out and it emerged that the childcare had ceased on August 22, 2008.

The court heard McLean had confirmed on claim renewal forms in January 2009 she still needed help towards childcare costs.

Mr McNab said: “As a result of a failure to notify a change in circumstances and a making a false statement, Ms McLean received an overpayment of housing and council tax benefits amounting to £3,205.93 from October 21, 2008, to March 28, 2010.”

McLean pleaded guilty by post to making a false statement on January 20, 2009, and failing to notify of a change in circumstances between October 21, 2008, and January 19, 2009.

In her letter, McLean she said she did not deliberately claim false benefits as she was certain her child had left childcare at a later date.

“It was me that contacted them and asked for it to be changed,” she added.

Chairman of the magistrates’ bench Peter Heron fined McLean £250 with a £15 victim surcharge and £150 costs.