Leeds benefits cheat claimed over £30,000

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A MUM claimed more than £30,000 in benefits after she lied to authorities that she was a single parent.

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Toni Staniforth, 28, failed to notify Leeds City Council and the Department of Work and Pensions that the father of her two children was living with them.

Leeds Crown Court heard Staniforth initially made legitimate claims for income support, housing benefit and council tax benefit.

But she failed to notify authorities of a change in circumstances when her partner Matthew Smith moved into her home on Foundry Place, Harehills, in 2010.

Staniforth continued to illegally claim benefits for four years until the deception came to light in June of last year.

She was interviewed and initially claimed that Mr Smith only lived with her for a few days per week. Investigators then put evidence to her which showed he was listed as living at the address in two phone books.

Mr Smith also had Staniforth listed as his emergency contact with work and had Foundry Place listed as his address.

Staniforth pleaded guilty to two offences of benefit fraud after her children’s school confirmed Mr Smith lived at the address. A total of £15,746 was illegally claimed.

Anthony Sugare, mitigating, said the offending began after Mr Smith moved in but failed to contribute much to the family home.

Mr Sugare said Staniforth’s children would suffer hardship if she was sent immediately to prison. She was given a six month prison sentence, suspended for six months, and was told to do 180 hours unpaid work. Judge Seam Morris said: “You must understand that this money belonged to people who deserved it. It is not their to line the pockets of people who do not need it.”

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