‘Ignorant’ Sudbury woman cheated £13,000 extra benefits

A Sudbury woman who claimed more than £13,000 in benefits despite being left £25,000 by her late father could face jail.

Tashya Delacey, 23, from Church Street, admitted failing to notify the Department of Work and Pensions about the change in her circumstances. She continued to wrongly claim income support for 25 months up until August last year.

She also pleaded guilty to making a false statement to Babergh District Council in June 2011 in order to claim housing and council tax benefits.

Bury St Edmunds Magistrates’ Court heard on Thursday how Delacey started claiming income support in October 2009 when she was living with her mother and daughter, now aged three.

She later claimed for housing and council tax benefit in 2011 when she moved house.

Lauren Bond, prosecuting on behalf of Babergh and the DWP, said: “You are not entitled to these benefits if you have capital in excess of £16,000.”

The council was notified by the DWP that Delacey’s capital exceeded that amount on August 1, 2012, and she was interviewed under caution on August 6.

“When she completed her forms, she had a joint bond split with her mother of £25,000 from her late father,” said Miss Bond. “That bond matured on May 5, 2010, and at that time it was her money.”

The court heard that the money was transferred into two accounts. In interview, Delacey said she had told the council about changes to her rent, which Miss Bond said showed she was aware of the requirement to notify Babergh of changes to her situation.

“She claimed it had completely slipped her mind to notify anyone,” said Miss Bond.

The overpayments made to Delacey included £5,741.49 in housing benefit, £841.73 in council tax benefit and £6,734.05 in income support, totalling £13.317.27.

Miss Bond said: “This amount has been overpaid over quite some time and the total overpayment is particularly high.”

Julianna Tolan, mitigating, said the highest sentence available to magistrates could include 12 weeks imprisonment, but she felt Delacey, who is unemployed, would be suitable for community punishments including unpaid work and supervision orders.

Miss Tolan said: “It was more as a result of ignorance than anything that the matter wasn’t declared.”

The court heard that Delacey paid off £5,000 of credit card and car finance debts and put the rest of her inheritance into a savings account for her daughter and did not intend to spend it. But once her benefits were withdrawn, she used the money for living costs and rent.

Miss Tolan said: “As a result of that, she has had to go back on benefits.” She added that payments totalling £30 per month are being deducted to pay back the money to Babergh and the DWP.

Marian De Bass, presiding magistrate, ordered a probation report to be carried out on Delacey, who was released on unconditional bail. She will be sentenced on March 7.