Feb 1 2013 By Stuart Greer
A BENEFIT-CHEATING single mum is £64 a week better off – after officials ruled she was entitled to more than she was stealing.
Joanne Gibbons unlawfully claimed £3,140 in income support. She had continued taking the hand-out – aimed at those on a very low wage or no income at all – while variously working at a clothes shop and for an NHS Trust.
She was caught after a tip-off to the Department for Work and Pensions. But when officials reassessed her case, they found that she should have been claiming child benefits and tax credits of £130 a week.
That was £64 more than the £66 a week she was actually getting through her fraud.
Gibbons, 23, admitted failing to notify the DWP of a change in circumstances. She was given a 12-month community order with 80 hours of unpaid work and told to pay £100 costs.
She does not have to repay any of the £3,140.
Julian Farley, defending, told Macclesfield magistrates court the situation was ‘ridiculous’.
He said: “This case is extraordinary and perhaps an indictment of the benefits system.
“The overpayment equates to £66 per week. After her benefits were adjusted Ms Gibbons was entitled to claim child benefits and tax credits of £130, which actually gave her £64 more than she was fraudulently claiming.
“She would have actually saved the government money if she had continued the fraud. It is the most ridiculous mitigation I have put forward in a court.”
Gibbons, of Berwick Close, Upton Priory, Macclesfield, had begun claiming income support legitimately in May 2010.
She then worked for the Cheshire East NHS Trust and the Strawberry Moon clothes shop in the town over the next two years without flagging up the change.
Susan Armstrong, chairwoman of the Bench, told Gibbons: “You fraudulently claimed benefits for a sustained period intentionally. “This is taking money from the public purse.”