Chesterfield benefits cheat: ‘I don’t deserve to lose my job’ – WHAT DO YOU THINK?

Ms Brooks illegally claimed �10,655 in council tax and housing benefits.
Ms Brooks illegally claimed �10,655 in council tax and housing benefits.

A taxi driver has criticised a council’s decision to revoke her licence after she was convicted of benefit fraud.

Jennifer Brooks fears the vulnerable people she helped transport will now be left in the lurch.

The 51-year-old is also concerned she will struggle to find another job and not be able to pay back the £10,655 she illegally claimed in council tax and housing benefits.

Chesterfield Borough Council, which has revoked Ms Brooks’ taxi badge for three years, said she had breached policy.

Ms Brooks, who worked with Chesterfield-based Naylor’s Taxis, said: “I’m not a bad person – I love this job, I’ve been doing it for the past 15 years.

“The vulnerable adults and children will also suffer.

“They know me and now they’re going to have to get used to being driven around by someone else and that will be difficult and upsetting for them.

“I’m going to struggle to pay back the money without a job.”

Chris Naylor, manager of Naylor’s Taxis, said: “It’s a very harsh decision by the borough council.

“Jennifer is a reliable, hardworking person and she doesn’t deserve to lose her job.”

Chesterfield magistrates’ court heard last month how Ms Brooks, of Gipsy Lane, Chesterfield, had been claiming the benefit without declaring she had been living with a man.

Ms Brooks claimed she did not consider the man – who was a friend – had been living at the property.

She claimed she had let him stay with her but had thought it would have been for a short time.

But the court heard investigators were satisfied the man had been a resident and she had allowed him to use the property after he had split up with his wife.

Ms Brooks pleaded guilty to failing to tell the authorities about living with a man between May 2011 and April 2014 in relation to her council tax and housing benefit.

Defence solicitor David Gittins said the case had not been fraudulent from the start and Ms Brooks had not lived the high life but had been struggling financially.

Magistrates sentenced Ms Brooks to 18 weeks’ custody, suspended for 12 months, and ordered her to complete 150 hours’ unpaid work.

A spokesman for Chesterfield Borough Council said: “Policy states that if someone applies for a licence with a conviction like this, it would be refused for three years. That’s been applied to this case.”