Wigan woman stole £7k in benefits

A supermarket worker was overpaid more than £7,000 in benefits after failing to tell the authorities she had returned to work and was employed, a court heard.

Adele Berry, 34, of Priory Road, Ashton, made fraudulent claims for jobseekers’ allowance and housing benefit.

Wigan and Leigh Magistrates Court

Wigan and Leigh Magistrates Court

Wigan and Leigh Magistrates’ Court heard she had worked for Asda since 2008, but took a career break and returned to work in 2015.

Tess Kenyon, prosecuting, said: “One of the benefits was claimed prior to her returning to work and I think the others were claimed after.”

Berry claimed benefits that either she was not entitled to or would have been entitled to at a reduced rate because she failed to disclose that she was employed, Ms Kenyon said.

It was calculated that Berry had received £7,029 in overpayments during an 18-month period.

Berry pleaded guilty to six offences related to benefits claims when she appeared at Wigan and Leigh Magistrates’ Court.

There were three charges of fraud by false representation, where she said information in claims for jobseekers’ allowance and housing benefit was correct and complete whereas she was in employment. These offences took place on or around April 13, 2016, December 6, 2016 and January 6, 2017.

In the other three charges, she committed fraud by dishonestly failing to tell Wigan Council and the Department for Work and Pensions that she was in employment. Those offences relate to various dates between December 8, 2015 and May 16, 2017.

The court heard she had one previous conviction from 2016 for travelling without paying a rail fare.

Both Ms Kenyon and Berry’s solicitor Karen Moorfield asked for a report to be prepared by the probation service to assist magistrates when sentencing Berry.

After reading the report, the bench imposed a 12-month community order with 180 hours of unpaid work.

Berry must also pay £85 prosecution costs and £85 victim surcharge.