Dales benefit cheat claimed £10,000

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A Dales woman has admitted dishonestly claiming £10,000 in benefits.

Sally Hodson–Ridgway, 44, pleaded guilty at Derby Magistrates’ Court on Friday to failing to inform Derbyshire Dales District Council of a change in her employment circumstances when for two years she held two different jobs with local cleaning and hotel companies.

The defendant started claiming benefits from April 2010, at which time she declared sole employment with the cleaning company at a rate of £107.94 a fortnight.

But an investigation by council fraud officers revealed that Hodson-Ridgway failed to inform the council when in August 2010 she also took a job with the hotel company.

She went on to falsely claim £8,103 housing benefit and £1,823 council tax benefit.

A council spokesman said: “This was a serious level of social security fraud over a long period of time.

“The district council adopts a zero tolerance policy to benefit fraud because it is not a victimless crime – benefit thieves take money intended for the most vulnerable in our society.

“We rely on anonymous referrals from the general public to enable our staff to successfully investigate and bring those guilty of offences to justice.

“We welcome any information about someone who is claiming benefit to which they may not be entitled through our Benefit Fraud Hotline on 01629 761330, where all calls are treated in complete confidence.”

Hodson–Ridgway, of George Street, Ashbourne, was sentenced to a 12–month community order with 100 hours of unpaid work.

She was also ordered to pay the council’s court costs of £510.