A former Capel Hendre care home cook who fiddled £4,478.16 in benefit fraud has claimed she held back from informing the authorities that she was again living with her ex-husband because she did not know “how long he would be back”.
Gail Ellen Roberts, of Woodland Cottage in Black Lion Road, submitted a claim for benefits to Carmarthenshire county council and the Department of Work and Pensions in October 2010, on the basis that she lived alone.
Dennis Davies, prosecuting, told Llanelli magistrates how the 54-year-old was legally obliged to inform both authorities of any change in her circumstances, but failed to do so.
“For all of her benefits she claimed she lived alone,” said Mr Davies.
However, in April 2012 Roberts’ former husband moved back into the property.
“She did not tell anyone that they had been reconciled and that he was in full-time work and supporting her.
“They were in a stable relationship – had the department been made aware of this her benefits would have been withdrawn.”
In interview, Roberts said she was aware of the impact the changes would have on her housing benefit, council tax benefit and Employment Support Allowance, and had written to Carmarthenshire county council in May 2012 informing the authority of her husband’s return.
The council had no record of receiving any letter.
“Even though the council never got any letter, the fact that she says she sent it is an admission that she was aware of her obligation to inform the authorities,” said Mr Davies.
Kate Williams, defending, told the court how Roberts had suffered a heart attack in 2008 forcing her to end her career as a care-home chef.
At some point later she and her husband separated, but were reconciled in April 2012 and Mr Roberts moved back in.
“She did not know long he would be back for so she did not change her benefits,” said Ms Williams.
“She was waiting for the relationship to become more stable.”
The authorities were alerted to the fraud in January 2013.
Roberts admitted failing to notify Carmarthenshire county council of a change in her circumstances between April 2, 2012, and January 9, 2013, and failing to notify the Department of Work and Pensions of the change May 1, 2012, and January 28, 2013.
Magistrates fined Roberts £235 and ordered she pay £85 court costs and a £23 legal surcharge.
Roberts has already reached agreement with the authorities regarding a repayment plan of the overpaid benefits.