Woman who claimed council tax support had income of £100k per year

Ipswich Magistrates Court on Elm Street

Caron Craft was handed a suspended sentence at Suffolk Magistrates' Court - Credit: Sarah Lucy brown

A Felixstowe woman has been handed a suspended sentence after falsely claiming a council tax reduction while bringing home a total of £100,000 per year. 

Caron Craft, 57, failed to declare income from her employment and an occupational pension to East Suffolk Council over eight years, magistrates in Ipswich heard. 

Craft made a claim for council tax reduction in May 2013 on the basis of limited income at that time following the death of her husband in 2007. 

Benefit entitlement letters were regularly sent to her home confirming how it was calculated and how to notify the council of any changes to circumstances, magistrates heard. 

In 2019, Craft provided the council with information regarding her son's income so checks were undertaken with HMRC. 

It was revealed that Craft was receiving income from a job and an occupational pension. 

The occupational pension was worth £22,000 a year and Craft had been receiving the money since 2007 and was therefore not declared when the council tax claim was made. 

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Craft also started working in June 2013 - less than two weeks after the claim was first paid. 

In August 2015, Craft got a new job, with earnings of around £4,000 per month, and there was no record of that money being declared. 

At the time of the investigation, Craft's annual salary was around £78,800, and coupled with the pension, meant her income was more than £100,000 per year. 

An interview under caution letter was sent in August 2021 as opposed to a face-to-face interview due to the coronavirus pandemic, and Craft responded by saying she was aware she should not be receiving the money due to her income. 

Craft said she did not declare the occupational pension money on the form because she was not asked about it, but two questions on the form gave her the opportunity to declare the money, magistrates heard.

The total amount fraudulently claimed was £7,668.21 over eight years, which has been paid back in full, magistrates heard. 

Craft, of Mill Lane, Felixstowe, previously pleaded guilty to dishonestly failing to disclose information to East Suffolk Council to make a gain for herself and appeared for sentence on Monday. 

The court heard she had no previous convictions. 

Craft, who was not represented in court, told magistrates she was not a bad person or a criminal but had made "a bad judgement". 

Magistrates sentenced Craft to 26 weeks' imprisonment, suspended for 12 months, with 20 rehabilitation activity requirement days. 

She was also ordered to pay £750 in court costs and a victim surcharge of £128.