Woman in court for benefit fraud case

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A woman who was overpaid more than £7,500 in benefits after failing to disclose a change in her circumstances has appeared in court.

Angela Balmer, of Queen’s Terrace, Holme, pleaded guilty to a charge of failing to report a change of circumstances that would have affected her entitlement to benefits, contrary to Section 112 of the Social Security Administration Act 1992.

In a prosecution brought by South Lakeland District Council (SLDC), magistrates in Kendal heard that 45-year-old Balmer had not told the council when her income had increased and that as a result she had been overpaid benefits worth £7,653.74 that she was not entitled to.

Balmer had failed to attend court for the original hearing scheduled for October 16, 2014 so a warrant was issued for her arrest and she appeared before magistrates last Wednesday, October 22.

Magistrates gave Balmer a 12 month community order and ordered her to carry out 120 hours of unpaid work.

She was also ordered to pay all SLDC’s costs of £426 and a £60 victim surcharge.

Nicola Hartley, senior solicitor at South Lakeland District Council, said: “The council has a policy to prosecute where deliberate fraud is uncovered.

“It is important that the message goes out that the council has a responsibility to protect public funds and that this type of offence is not a victimless crime - it impacts on all residents in South Lakeland.

“The vast majority of people are law-abiding council tax payers and claim benefit they are entitled to.”