Benefit cheat claimed £45,000 saying she could not leave her house – but was caught working at care home
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Jennifer Stewart, 51, today pleaded guilty to fraudulently claiming the Employment and Support Allowance (ESA). The Wakefield woman claimed she could not work, telling her benefits assessor she could not cope with public places or people, that she was unable to leave her house due to severe depression and anxiety, and that her son had to take her out and do her shopping.
However, a Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) investigation found that Stewart had in fact worked in a care home throughout her claim period, not even taking a sick day on the date she first made her claim.
Stewart, of Flanshaw Crescent, said she remembered calling DWP in an attempt to cancel her claim, but claimed she may have fallen asleep whilst on the phone.
At Leeds Crown Court today she received a 12-month custodial sentence suspended for two years, 180 hours of community service and 10 rehabilitation days.
The DWP said it “launched a robust plan” last year to further tackle fraud and error in the benefits system and set a new target to save at least £1.3 billion on fraud and error in 2023-24.
DWP Minister responsible for tackling fraud, Tom Pursglove MP, said: “Shameless attempts to defraud the taxpayer and our benefit system will face the full force of the law.
“We are determined to protect taxpayer’s money and ensure our support goes to people who really need it.”