£11,000 benefit fraud dinner lady claimed husband was sleeping in car
A DINNER lady claimed more than £11,000 in benefits — pretending that her husband had spent years sleeping in his car — when he had really been living at the house and spending money upgrading the couple’s Sky TV package.
Bolton magistrates were told how mum-of-five Lynda Harrison claimed £11,189 in housing benefit and council tax benefit she was not entitled to by stating her warehouseman husband Neil was not living with them at their home in Nandywell, Little Lever.
Rebecca Kirk, prosecuting on behalf of Bolton Council, told the court how 46-year-old Harrison claimed the cash from August, 2007 until October, 2011.
But investigators discovered that while Mr Harrison had left the family home and lived for a short time with his mother, he returned home at Christmas, 2007.
Evidence showed he was paying bills for the house, even spending extra on upgrading the Sky TV package in August, 2008 and each year the family holidayed together at Butlins. There was no record of him living elsewhere.
When questioned, Harrison claimed that they had separated in 2007 and he only returned in 2011.
She alleged that in the meantime he had lived in his car or on friends’ sofas. She pleaded guilty to dishonestly failing to notify a change in circumstances.
Adam Whittaker, defending, said the couple had married in 1990 and had five children ranging in age from 12 to 27.
He stressed that they did separate in 2007 but then reconciled, with Mr Harrison spending three or four nights at home and at other times staying with friends or in his car.
”Eventually the couple decided to address their problems,” he said.
He added that Mrs Harrison has lived in her council house for 20 years and does two part time jobs as a carer and a school dinnertime superviser in order to make ends meet.
He said that the couple had run up £7,000 in credit card debts and a further £1,700 in an overdraft, but that Harrison now regrets not telling the truth about her husband living at home.
He said she was currently repaying the benefits she wrongly received at a rate of £140 a month.
Magistrates told her it was the efforts she was now making to hand back the cash which had saved her from a jail sentence.
She was sentenced to do 200 hours unpaid work and pay £500 prosecution costs plus a £60 victim surcharge.