Derbyshire welfare cheat who illegally claimed over £6,000 is ordered to do unpaid work

Chesterfield magistrates' court.
Chesterfield magistrates' court.

A benefit cheat who illegally claimed over £6,000 after she failed to declare she had been working has been ordered to carry out unpaid work as a punishment.

Chesterfield magistrates’ court heard on September 23 how Julie Louise Westmoreland, 40, of Chatsworth Road, Rowsley, Matlock, admitted failing to inform the Department for Work and Pensions of two periods when she had been working while continuing to receive a care allowance.

Prosecuting solicitor Angela Hadfield told a previous hearing Westmoreland was claiming carer’s allowance to which she was not entitled between July 12, 2015, and August 7, 2016, and between July 31, 2017, and July 1, 2018.

Mrs Hadfield added that there was a total overpayment of £6,075.30 of benefit and she had been receiving a carer’s allowance from May 14, 2012, to July 1, 2018, on the grounds she was caring for her son and was not working.

But Westmoreland failed to declare she had been working and earning money during two different periods, according to Mrs Hadfield.

Westmoreland admitted working as a barmaid for JD Wetherspoon’s during the first period and admitted that she later worked at Lady Manners School as a dinner lady during the second period.

The defendant acknowledged that she should have reported the income but had failed to do so despite having received warning letters.

She pleaded guilty to dishonestly failing to inform the DWP of a change of circumstances which would have affected her entitlement to a carer’s allowance.

Defence solicitor Steve Brint said Westmoreland was entitled to a carer’s allowance but she fell foul of legislation when she took a part-time job as a barmaid.

Mr Brint added that initially she had done nothing wrong but when she started working more than 12 hours a week and almost full-time she should have been declared this to the DWP.

Westmoreland left the job after nearly a year to spend time with family, according to Mr Brint, but then got another job at Lady Manners School which she also failed to declare.

Mr Brint said Westmoreland has mental health issues and has been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder.

Magistrates sentenced Westmoreland to a 12 month community order with 50 hours of unpaid work.

She was also ordered to pay an £85 victim surcharge and £85 costs.