Benefits cheat claimed nearly £47,000

A BENEFITS cheat has been given a suspended prison sentence and ordered to carry out 150 hours of unpaid work after falsely claiming almost £47,000.

Paula Jessop, 38, of Boxtree Close, Hull, was sentenced to four months in jail, suspended for 18 months, after admitting two counts of dishonesty at Hull Crown Court.

Jessop must also pay back the entire 46,951.17 she falsely claimed between April 12, 2004, and March 2, 2008.

A joint investigation between Hull Council and the Department for Work and Pensions found she had failed to declare that she had been living with her long-term partner, leading to overpayments in housing and council tax benefits and income support.

After the hearing, Andy Sims, the council's benefits manager, said: "This sentence demonstrates just how serious the crime of benefit fraud is.

"Benefit fraud used to be seen as a victimless crime. The public are realising in these hard times that nothing could be further from the truth. The reality is that benefit fraud has a negative impact upon everyone, other than the thieves and opportunists that commit the crimes."