A WOMAN who fraudulently claimed thousands of pounds of benefits by not declaring that her grown-up son lived with her has been fined.
Ann Weldon, of Linden Lea, Portchester, did not declare that her eldest son was living with her for more than seven years.
The 51-year-old claimed housing benefit and council tax benefit from 2006, when her son turned 18.
She failed to notify Fareham Borough Council on three occasions – in December 2006, in March 2009 and in January 2011.
The court heard that Weldon had been overpaid by £2,138.65 in housing benefit and £4.63 in council tax benefit, totalling £2,143.28.
Weldon’s defence Kate Watts said: ‘I would suggest that this has been one massive mistake on her part but that would be an understatement.’
She told the court that Weldon had two sons – now aged 22 and 25 – and they had always lived with her.
Weldon, who has been unemployed for three years after the cafe she worked in closed down, raised her two sons alone after leaving an abusive relationship.
Miss Watts said: ‘The fact that she was able to go it alone should be a credit to her.’
The court heard how the two sons were also on benefits for health problems and were also unemployed.
Miss Watts added: ‘This is not a benefit fraud that has allowed her to live a lavish lifestyle. As a family they live hand to mouth.’
Miss Watts also said that Weldon had recently been caring for a sick aunt in Turkey and that she spent ‘her life worrying about everyone else, not thinking properly and not filling in forms properly’.
Prosecuting, Mary Kigonya told the court that Weldon had been caught out by a telephone call made by landlord First Wessex following a change in under-occupancy law, commonly known as bedroom tax, last April.
Weldon pleaded guilty to three charges of dishonestly making a false statement to obtain benefits. Also taken into account were two further incidents of fraudulent claims in 2007.
Weldon was fined £180 and ordered to pay £100 costs and a £20 victim surcharge. Weldon said a family friend would pay the council back the money – £2,143.28 – in full.
Chairwoman of the magistrates Janet White said: ‘It is very important that you pay it and any other forms you fill in, make sure you read them properly.’
Weldon said: ‘I will be getting help in future.’