Barnoldswick grandma falsely claimed £22,000 in benefits

Burnley Magistrates Court
Burnley Magistrates Court

A BENEFITS cheat grandma who was claiming incapacity benefits whilst working as a cleaner netted more than £22,000 over seven years.

Pennine magistrates heard how Susan Mather (55), at one point worked for Lancashire County Council at a school in Barnoldswick to earn cash for Christmas.

Mather, who is now her elderly mother’s carer and looks after her disabled granddaughter, found herself better off when she went on to the correct benefits than when she had been working and being dishonest. She was now repaying the money at £13.60 a fortnight.

The defendant, of York Street, Barnoldswick, admitted failing to notify a change in circumstances to the DWP, between October 1st, 2003, and January 24th, this year. She had no previous convictions. Mather, who had earlier been warned she was facing jail, was given 12 weeks in prison, suspended for two years, with an eight-week curfew.

Mr Richard Taylor (prosecuting for the DWP), said Mather got £22,585 she wasn’t entitled to and had admitted the offence when interviewed. She had paid back £136.

Mr Stephen Barker (defending), said she had lost her good character as a result of her actions and was fully aware of the position she found herself in. She was at first claiming incapacity benefits legitimately, as she suffered from epilepsy and occasional depression which got worse after her husband left her. Mr Barker said the school cleaning job was in the run-up to Christmas, when the defendant needed money to support her family.

Mather was now registered as her 89-year-old mother’s carer. Her granddaughter had lived with her for five years. Once she was investigated by the DWP, she received benefits advice and could now support herself and her granddaughter better than when she had been employed and claiming incapacity benefits.

The solicitor continued: “Ironically, she is now in a position where she is not working and getting the right benefits and she is better off.” Mr Barker added Mather, who was also repaying a loan at £85 a week, felt remorse.

The magistrates told the defendant the offences were very, very serious and the fraud was over a long period. The chairman added: “It was quite sophisticated. You knew what you were doing and it was a very large amount.”