A BENEFIT cheat squirrelled away enough cash to buy a house while illegally taking £23,000 from tax payers.

Bolton Crown Court heard how Nasera Iqbal claimed to be a single mum with no income or assets and caring for her elderly mother.

On a claim form for income support in January 2013 she stated she had no savings.

But Philip Barnes, prosecuting, told Judge Richard Gioserano that, in reality, in March 2012 she had more than £16,000 in a bank account and by January 2015 the amount had grown to £75,000.

Department for Work and Pensions investigators found the bank account dwindled to less than £100 in January 2016. Iqbal, aged 57, had bought the Worsley Road, Bolton, house she lives in and had registered it in the name of two of her sons.

Iqbal had denied making a false statement to obtain benefits and two offences of failing to notify a change in circumstances affecting entitlement to income support and housing benefit between 2011 and 2016 but, following a trial at Manchester Magistrates' Court, she was convicted and sent to Bolton Crown Court for sentence.

William Magill, defending told the court that Iqbal had received the money from her husband in Pakistan to buy the house.

At the same time she claimed £10,200 in income support and £12,800 in housing benefit to which she was not entitled.

Mr Magill said Iqbal did not treat the money in the bank account as belonging to her.

"The money that came to her account came via her husband, who she is estranged from and who lives in Pakistan," he said.

"They were in an abusive relationship and he was eventually deported on a visitor's visa.

"He was using the money, in a way, to coerce her into assisting him to gain re-entry to the country."

Judge Gioserano refused to follow a recommendation in a pre-sentence report that Iqbal should be given a curfew.

Instead he handed her a 12 month community order and told her she must undertake 180 hours of unpaid work.

"This was your money, your savings. Whilst you were saving this money to buy a house, which you put into the names of your children, the public were supporting you to the tune of £23,000 which you should not have had," Judge Gioserano told Iqbal.

"You have been dishonest. I don't think it is necessary to send you prison but I do think that you require punishment and the public need to see you punished for this dishonesty."

A proceeds of crime hearing will take place on February 10 in order to force Iqbal to repay the cash.