Benefits claimant lied after £40k inheritance
A CLEANER who inherited more than £40,000 but lied to the council so she could continue claiming benefits has been warned she could go to prison.
Kathleen Groves, 54, received £41,000 from her father in 2008 but continued to claim housing benefit and council tax.
When Bristol City Council investigated she made false statements, saying she had no savings.
But at Bristol Magistrates' Court Groves, of Mendip Hill, Windmill Hill, admitted her guilt.
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She pleaded guilty to failing to notify the council that she had received the inheritance.
Groves admitted twice telling the council she had no savings when she in fact had between £38,000 and £39,000 in the bank.
She also pleaded guilty to telling the Department of Work and Pensions she had just £10 savings when she had £36,000 so she could obtain jobseeker's allowance (JSA).
The court heard that in total Groves had dishonestly obtained £7,533 of housing benefit, £4,664 of jobseeker's allowance and £2,305 of council tax between April 2008 and November 2011.
Kate Burnham-Davies, prosecuting on behalf of the city council, said it was suggested to the authority that Groves had been in receipt of capital she had not declared.
An investigation into her bank statements revealed she had received the inheritance and moved the money from account to account, Miss Burnham-Davies said.
"When she was interviewed she accepted she had a good knowledge of the benefits system and accepted it was her responsibility to keep the council informed," she said.
"She said she had been told by people that it was her money and not to tell the authority about it."
Miss Burnham-Davies said the council tax had been repaid in full, that £4,500 was still owed in JSA and £2,500 of housing benefit remained outstanding.
Ruth Tiley, defending, said that Groves had entered early guilty pleas and made immediate admissions in interview.
She said half of the inheritance had gone to her son who lived with her but that he had helped pay the outstanding debt.
"She has always been in employment apart from when her son was born and has a strong work ethic," Miss Tiley said.
"She does not know whether she will keep her job following these convictions."
Miss Tiley said Groves had a financial arrangement with the council and the Department of Work and Pensions to pay back what she owed them.
"She accepts that she acted very foolishly," Miss Tiley said.
"It is the biggest and the only mistake she has made in her life and she has no intention of repeating it.
"She has no previous convictions and has never been in trouble of any sort before. She is deeply ashamed to be in this situation but does take full responsibility for her actions."
Magistrates told Groves it was a "serious offence" and that a full pre-sentence report was needed.
They said they were considering a suspended prison sentence with unpaid work but that all options were open including immediate custody.
Groves will be sentenced later this month.