A WOMAN who fiddled more than £28,000 in benefits avoided a prison sentence.
Beverley Anderson, 42, claimed income support, housing and council tax benefit for several years as a single parent, despite living with her partner for most of the time.
She provided a false tenancy agreement to Durham County Council in order to conceal the fact her partner was living with her, Consett Magistrates’ Court heard.
Anderson, of Castle Riggs, Chester-le-Street, pleaded guilty to six offences of furnishing false documents, and one offence of failure to notify a change of circumstances.
The bench was told her claim was legitimate when she first made it, but she had fallen into financial difficulties.
She was sorry for what she had done and understood the effect her actions had on the wider community.
Anderson was sentenced to eight weeks in prison, suspended for 12 months, a 12-month supervision order and ordered to pay £130 costs,
The authorities will recover some of the overpayment via a deduction from future benefits.
Durham County Council’s benefits manager Ian Ferguson said: “Court proceedings such as these are always a last resort, but it is important the public know we will take action.
“Benefits cheats cost the taxpayers huge amounts of money every year.
“We will continue to work the other agencies, such as the Department for Work and Pensions, to deal with the problem.”