Hartlepool mum’s £2,000 benefit fraud

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A MUM claimed more than £2,000 in benefits she was not entitled to by failing to tell officials that her partner was living with her.

Eve Cope, 31, pocketed £2,241 in Income Support plus housing and council tax benefits.

Teesside Crown Court heard she was paid the money on the basis that she was a single parent.

But her partner began living with her after she started receiving the benefits and she failed to inform the Department of Work and Pensions.

James Kemp, prosecuting, at Teesside Crown Court, said: “The defendant was in receipt of Income Support from late 2008.

“Early in 2009 her partner commenced living with her. She was fully aware she should have reported that change of circumstances to the relevant department and therefore the benefits she was in receipt of would have ceased.

“Over the period that followed she failed to inform the department of her change in circumstances and led to a loss of some £2,241.”

When Cope, a mum-of-three, was questioned by benefits officials in February last year she denied her partner was living with her after separating in 2008.

But they produced paperwork relating her partner when he gave Cope’s address as his.

She later pleaded guilty to two counts of failing to notify officials of a change in her circumstances.

Ian Mullarkey, mitigating, said: “Difficult family circumstances led to this crime being committed.

“She regrets her involvement and is willing to comply with whatever order the court feels appropriate.

“She has started to repay the money.”

Cope, of Waldon Street, Hartlepool, was given a community order with 80-hours unpaid work.

Judge Peter Bowers said: “The trouble with benefit frauds is they are easy to commit, but quite hard to detect.

“I think a community order with 80-hours unpaid work is appropriate.

“Don’t think your children will save you if you do something dishonest again.”