Newport social worker fraudulently claimed £23k
5:29pm Tuesday 12th February 2013 in News
A £30,000-a-year Newport City Council social worker resigned after she was charged with dishonesty, an offence for which she was yesterday given a four month suspended sentence.
A court heard Janette Pollitt, 51 and her partner Deborah Hodges, 54, of Livingston Place, Newport, fraudulently filled out housing benefit forms, claiming a total of £23,996 over a nine year period.
Cwmbran Magistrates’ Court heard how Hodges moved into Pollitt’s property as a tenant in December 2001, gaining £50 housing benefit towards the £65-a-week rent.
However, prosecutor Joanna James said things developed between them and from January 6 2003 to July 30 2012, they were living as a couple, but with Hodges still claiming the benefit from Newport city council.
They both pleaded guilty to dishonestly failing to disclose this, with defence solicitor Ian George saying the deceit only came to light after Hodges went voluntarily to the council to admit the offences.
Mr George said: "They weren’t living the high life, the extra money went to pay household bills. Ms Pollitt is a social worker with 30 years experience and has been employed by Newport City Council for 11 years.
"But, she has resigned from her job and in future is unlikely to find employment in the sector."
Both are of previous clean character and Mr George said Pollitt has been using her savings to pay back £200 per month, already having cleared £7,860 off the debt.
He added she is now working the noticed period of her £2,500-a-month job and the pair have been left "traumatised" by proceedings.
District Judge John Charles said it was a legitimate claim when it was first made and the failure to disclose the change in circumstances led to Pollitt having to resign a "significant professional position".
He added: "You had no need for the money, it was greed", saying there was no alternative but a custodial sentence for the charge they had both admitted.
He suspended four month sentences for a year, asking each defendant to pay £100 costs and Pollitt to undertake 100 hours unpaid work.