A FALMOUTH woman saved more than £30,000 from her benefits payments to move house – a sum that was more than double the amount of capital she was allowed.
Linda Bascombe, 58, of Trevithick Road, was initially charged with a dishonest failure to notify the authorities of her savings and as a result, being overpaid £25,254.98 in benefits.
On Wednesday at Truro Crown Court, on the morning her trial was due to start, she pleaded guilty to failing to notify Cornwall Council and the Department for Work and Pensions with no dishonesty and those pleas were accepted.
Will Rose, for the Crown Prosecution Service, said between April 2002 and February 2012, Bascombe claimed council tax and income benefits on the basis that she did not have capital exceeding the allowed limits, which were £8,000 to April 2006 and £16,000 after that date.
He said she suffered from chronic fatigue syndrome, which is also known as ME and that at the end of 2011 her savings had totalled £33,561.
She was interview in April last year.
Mr Rose said: “She stated she had telephoned the DWP in June 2009 and was given information that she was entitled to save as much as she like towards the cost of moving house.
“Her capital exceeded the permitted amount well before 2009.”
Mr Rose said it was the prosecution’s case that the phone call had never happened.
Edward Bailey, defending, said Bascombe was a lady of previous good character who had ended her police interview by saying she was sorry if she had done something wrong but that she was not aware of having done anything wrong.
He said she had not spent the money on living an extravagant lifestyle.
Sentencing Bascombe to two months in prison suspended for 12 months, Judge Christopher Harvey Clark, QC, said: “You suffer from depression, poor memory and concentration and over-whelming fatigue all the time.”
He added that Bascombe had been described in references handed in to the court as a “pillar of integrity”.
“I see no reason to depart from that description,” he said.