Fraudster fiddled £2k in housing benefits by not telling Hartlepool Council she had gone back to work

Hartlepool Civic Centre.
Hartlepool Civic Centre.

A FRAUDSTER cheat fiddled more than £2,000 in housing benefits after failing to tell officials she had gone back to work after three months on the sick.

Ann Marriott started receiving statutory sick pay on August 20, 2012, but didn’t alert Hartlepool Borough Council when she went back to work at the end of October the same year, Hartlepool Magistrates’ Court heard.

The 46-year-old then worked for almost a year until September 22, last year, with financial support from the local authority who still believed she was on the sick.

It was only when the council launched an investigation it was found that Marriott had been back at work earning between £200 and £310 a week, during which time she had received £2,053 in housing benefit.

Marriott, of Drayton Road, Hartlepool, admitted her wrongdoing to officers when she was questioned and pleaded guilty when she previously appeared at the court for failing to notify a chance of circumstances affecting entitlement to social security benefit, advantage or payment.

Neil Taylor, mitigating, said: “This is a classic case of somebody burying their head in the sand.

“She realised she should have told them at the first opportunity, she didn’t and then thought if she did tell them then she would be in trouble.

“This isn’t a lady who frequents the court with any degree of regularity.”

The court heard how Marriott has found herself in some financial problems, and has been encouraged to visit Hartlepool Citizens’ Advice Bureau for support and advice.

She is again claiming statutory sick pay now after undergoing an operation towards the end of last year but the money she wrongfully claimed is now been deducted from her benefits.

Marriott was given a two-year conditional discharge and ordered to pay back £85 costs.

Chair of the bench, Mrs Lynne Hodgson, said: “You have heard what’s been said and it does sound like it’s been a case of you burying your head in the sand, but these things don’t go away.

“If, as your solicitor says, this has been difficult for you, let’s hope you won’t want to go through it again.

“We are going to give you a conditional discharge for a period of two years.

“That is a long time, but as long as we don’t see you back here in court you won’t hear any more about the matter.”