Loretta Long‘s “roller coaster” relationship with the father of her four children resumed following a breakup and he mobed back in the family home. However, this affected her housing benefit and income support claims, but she failed to notify the Department of Work and Pensions for over one year.
So between September 2017 and October 2018, the 28-year-old Primark worker was overpaid £4,072.71 in income support from the Department for Work and Pensions, and £2,757.75 in housing benefit from Birmingham City Council.
The mum was “scared” about telling the authorities, Birmingham Live reports.
Long was spared jail at Birmingham Magistrates’ Court though, after a lenient judge opted to hand out a community order.
Investigators carried out surveillance of the defendant’s home in Northfield, Birmingham, and witnessed her partner coming and going after claims were made on social media in late 2018.
Ros Butler, prosecuting, said: “The claim was not fraudulent from the outset but her circumstances changed and she didn’t declare the change to the relevant authorities.
“She was interviewed under caution and initially denied the allegations. She later admitted her partner moved back in in September 2017. She knew it affected her entitlement to her benefits.
“The longer she left it to notify the authorities the more scared she was about actually doing it.”
The court heard Long had a “gradual” reconciliation with her ex-boyfriend before he moved back in. She had also feared she was going to lose the house due to a number of “financial issues”.
Azim Riaz, defending, said: “This matter has been hanging over her head and she couldn’t bear it. It needed to be dealt with. She knows she has done wrong.
“She is barely surviving with all the debts that have accrued.
“She wanted to face up to the reality. She has done now and wants to live the rest of her life in the normal way she has conducted herself before now.
“She sends her apologies to the court.”
Long is already repaying the illegitimate benefits. She must adhere to a 16-week electronically tagged curfew, pay £250 in court costs and a £95 victim surcharge.