Young mum pretended she was single parent to rake in more than £13k in benefits
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A 22-year-old mum was able to claim income support and housing benefit worth over £13,600 over two years – after pretending she was a single parent.
The young mum failed to update her relationship status on her claim form after her partner moved in with her, so was overpaid for the two year period on the false information that she was a single parent.
Ms. Piggott pleaded guilty at Manchester Magistrates Court to charges of benefit fraud after an investigation by the Department of Work and Pensions discovered that her partner Jordan Edge had moved in with her, meaning that she had been overpaid.
She was given a 16-week prison sentence suspended for 12 months, meaning that if she reoffends within 12 months this will be added to any further sentences.
She was also ordered to pay prosecution costs of £85 and a victim surcharge of £122.
Although the court did not order her to pay the money back, it is possible that the DWP will pursue her for the overpayments.
The fraud happened between 2017 and 2019 after partner Jordan Edge moved in, meaning that Ms. Piggott should have updated her relationship status on her claim form to account for the change in circumstances.
Ms. Piggott has since given birth to her third child.
Prosecutor Miss Tara Riley said: "In relation to these offences, one is from income support and one is from housing benefit.
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"Initially when filling in forms, the defendant stated that she was a single parent living at her address.
“She was asked if there were any changes in the circumstances and that if there were, they must be reported.
“But evidence has been collated and it shows the defendant was not living on her own, her partner was in fact also living with her.
“She initially denied the allegation but her partner, Mr Jordan Edge is the father of two of the children and was staying at the address.
“In total, the defendant has amounted £13,607.58 worth of debt over a period of 100 weeks. She does not have any previous convictions and she is of good character.”
Defence lawyer Zoe Earle requested mitigation for Piggott, saying: “A guilty plea has been entered by this defendant. She was a lady of previous good character but her good name will now be tarnished.
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“This case is one that was not fraudulent at the outset. She is extremely remorseful, and she is ashamed of her actions.
“She now has three children, so this offence dates back a while. Certainly, her life has changed somewhat since this.
“I do not believe she will be in trouble before the courts again in any kind of re-offending. I would ask for this to be a suspended sentence order.”
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The defence lawyer added: “She is not suitable for a curfew or work requirements as she has one very young child and two other young children. There is no alcohol or drug misuse. She is a mum struggling in the current climate.”
Sentencing JPs told Piggott: "The offending occurred over a significant amount of time but we have taken into consideration your previous good character and your co-operation. However, you have come very close to going to prison today."
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