A benefits claimant found to have more than £20,000 in savings received almost £28,000 of taxpayers’ money illegally, a court has been told.
Nicole Jarrel failed to notify the local authority when she inherited £20,000 following the death of her father. Instead she continued to accept income support, housing benefit and council tax benefit – despite the fact she knew her capital had exceeded the maximum amount allowed.
The 48-year-old, of Daisy Dale, Boston, wept as she admitted failing to notify Boston Borough Council and Southend on Sea Borough Council of a change in circumstances, when she appeared before Boston Magistrates’ Court on Wednesday.
Marie Stace, prosecuting, told the bench Jarrel had been receiving income support since 2001 and council tax and housing benefit since 2006.
She added: “The Department for Work and Pensions did some investigations back in January 2012 when it was alleged she failed to declare she had capital in excess of the prescribed limit.”
Officers discovered she had well over the £16,000 limit between February 2006 and April 2009. She had been overpaid a total of £27,829.51, Ms Stace said.
In interview, Jarrel said she knew that she had exceeded the limit, but that she thought the extra £4,000 ‘didn’t matter’, magistrates heard.
Mitigating, John Storer said Jarrel had already made moves to repay the money.
He added: “She had been genuinely claiming income support. She was not expecting to inherit a figure anything like that. She was shocked. Most of the money has gone on helping her son through university and decorating.”
Magistrates requested a full probation report.