A benefit cheat swindled over £68,000 after failing to tell the authorities his wife was employed, a court heard.
Martin Edwards, of Windermere Avenue, Huncoat , forged his wife’s signature on documents to the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) and falsely claimed more than £35,000 in housing benefit, £18,000 in income support, and £7,000 in both council tax and employment support.
The 46-year-old was overpaid the benefits for more than 12 years until he was reported to the DWP.
Edwards pleaded guilty at Burnley Crown Court to three counts of dishonestly failing to notify the DWP of a change in circumstances and two counts of making a false statement.
He was given a 12-month jail sentence, suspended for two years, with 120 hours' unpaid work.
Andrew Petterson, prosecuting, told the court how the DWP ‘received information that his wife had been employed since 1999’ and launched an investigation.
Edwards was arrested in November 2014 and initially denied that his wife was employed, however he then later stated she had ‘only been working for the last 18 months’.
Mr Petterson told the court how Edwards had forged his wife’s signature on benefit claim documents and the total overpayment between April 2002 and July 2014 was £68,552.98.
The prosecutor said: “It was not particularly sophisticated and no-one else was involved. Some of the claims for benefits were not fraudulent from the outset.”
Richard Prew, defending, said: “The DWP are recovering these monies and have been recovering them since the defendant’s questioning.
“They are being repaid back at a rate of £33 per week and his benefits have been cut to £38 per week. That’s what he is having to live on.
“There is no fault of course with the defendant’s wife. She was mortified that he continued to claim benefits while she was working.
“He has not lived a lavish lifestyle and has rented his home for 15 years. He is a low risk of re-offending and no other offences in 20 years.”
Sentencing, Recorder Simon Hilton said: “I’m told that you would like in future to get back into work.
“You have not worked for many years and have some plans to be a carer for your father-in-law.”