Colburn woman fraudulently claimed £75,000 in benefits, court hears

York Magistrates' Court.

A Colburn woman who claimed £75,000 in benefits she wasn’t entitled to has been spared jail.

Becky Reed, 29, fraudulently claimed universal credit over a five-year period between September 2016 and October 2021, York Crown Court heard.

Reed, a mother-of-three, had claimed that she was a single mother living alone to claim the benefits from the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP), when in fact she was living with her partner, said prosecutor Brooke Morrison.

She said that Reed had claimed to have no other source of income, when in fact her partner, who was named in court, was paying their internet bills.

Reed was living in Beechwood Grove when the fraud began in 2016, but then moved to Grange Road, Colburn, while still claiming to be living as a single mother.

“Between September 2016 and October 2021, the defendant was overpaid a total of £75,031 in Universal Credit,” said Ms Morrison.

“During that period, she was living with (her named partner).”

Reed was quizzed by the authorities in September 2021 and admitted that her partner had paid for the internet but denied he had been living at her address.

She claimed he was living with a friend and that he only visited her, said Ms Morrison.

However, she later pleaded guilty to fraud in that she dishonestly failed to disclose to the DWP that she was living with her partner.

She appeared for sentence today.

Defence barrister Andrew Nixon said that Reed, who was now working, was remorseful and had mental health issues.

Record Richard Wright KC said although Reed had fraudulently claimed a significant” amount of money over a long period, there was “no other sophistication to your fraud” and she was effectively of “good character” as she had never done anything of this sort before and had “considerable, ongoing difficulties with your mental health that make you vulnerable”.

He also noted that Reed had caring responsibilities as a mother and had co-operated with the authorities in their investigation.

Reed was given a 20-month jail sentence, but this was suspended for 18 months.

She was ordered to complete a 25-day rehabilitation programme but there was no order for prosecution costs.