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Woman, 65, failed to declare £86k savings while claiming benefits

Elizabeth Carroll failed to notify the DWP of a change of circumstances  Picture: GETTY IMAGES/ISTOCKPHOTO

Elizabeth Carroll failed to notify the DWP of a change of circumstances Picture: GETTY IMAGES/ISTOCKPHOTO

Archant

A 65-year-old Suffolk woman has admitted claiming more than £32,500 in benefits without declaring £86,000 in savings.

Elizabeth Carroll admitted making false statements to obtain pension credit and housing benefit, and failing to declare a change in circumstances that would affect her Employment and Support Allowance (ESA).

Carroll, of The Elms, in Framlingham, pleaded guilty to the three charges at Suffolk Magistrates' Court in Ipswich.

The court heard how the overpayment amounted to £32,547.01 between 2014 and 2017.

Prosecutor Lesla Small explained that the upper savings limit was £16,000.

She said Carroll made a valid claim for benefits in 2014 but then received £86,000, which she failed to declare.

Carroll was interviewed under caution last July, when the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) was satisfied she had not been in possession of the savings when she initially applied for ESA in 2014.

Ms Small said: “In the interim, she made housing benefit and pension credit claims, knowing full well she had savings.

“These two claims were false from the outset.”

“She said she had planned to use the savings straight away, and that it was easier to just say no to avoid confusion.”

Carroll was overpaid £18,091.28 in ESA by dishonestly failing to promptly notify the DWP of a change of circumstances, which she knew would affect her entitlement, between July 14, 2014 and November 5, 2017.

She was overpaid £13,607.01 in housing benefit by making a false representation to Suffolk Coastal District Council, declaring she had two bank accounts containing £5,111.79, on November 11, 2014.

She was also overpaid £848.72 in pension credit by making a false representation to the DWP, declaring she had one bank with £1,000 on October 16, 2017.

Solicitor Andrew Cleal asked magistrates to defer sentencing to the crown court, adding: “Given this lady's previous good character and the amount of complex mitigation that needs to be put forward, I think she would be better dealt with in the crown court with a barrister who specialises in these matters.”

A pre-sentence report will be prepared before Carroll's appearance before a judge. She was released on unconditional bail until a date to be confirmed.

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