Community order for benefits cheat

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A BENEFITS cheat who got more than £3,400 she wasn’t entitled to over four months was on a suspended jail term at the time.

Burnley Crown Court heard how Kathryn Browitt was claiming incapacity benefits while working at a taxi office, but told investigators she went there but only occasionally answered the phone. She was also receiving council tax and housing benefits during the scam.

Browitt, who is due to go into detoxification for three months because of her reliance on prescription medication, admitted three counts of failing to notify a change in circumstances, between last March and July. The defendant (45), of Larch Street, Nelson, was given a 12-month community order with supervision.

Miss Barbara Webster, prosecuting for the DWP, said Browitt received a total of £3,435 she wasn’t entitled to. She had started receiving incapacity benefits in May, 2006 on the basis she was suffering from depression and had no other income apart from housing and council tax benefits.

She went on to be paid every two weeks by cheque and was supposed to declare if her circumstances had changed.

Miss Webster said investigations by the department revealed the defendant was working in a cab office in Barrowford. She was questioned, said she attended at the office, but claimed she only occasionally answered the phone. She denied working there.

The hearing was told Browitt was in breach of a suspended sentence imposed in March last year for a £2,000 burglary. She was now paying back the benefits cash.

Mr Simon Gurney, for Browitt, said she was not working at all now. She had difficulties following a robbery she was the victim of in 2006. She suffered from depression and had been on medication five years.

She was due to go into a residential detox for 12 weeks in the hope it would end her reliance on prescription medication. The barrister added: “It was a legitimate claim at the outset, but became fraudulent for four months.”