Benefits cheat claims £60,000 by pretending to be single mum

A woman who scrounged £59,000 in state handouts by pretending to be a single mother sobbed as she was spared jail.

Rachel Howarth, 31, a childminder, fleeced extra Universal Credit by falsely claiming she single handedly raising her young daughter.

She made this admission whilst long-time partner Adam Carter was living with them, and was rumbled after an investigation.

Inquiries revealed building site foreman Mr Carter used the family address in Droyslden, Greater Manchester to obtain a loan, take out a credit card and opened a bank account.

He also gave the address as his permanent residence to his employers at construction giant Balfour Beatty and also to his car insurers – even putting Howarth on the policy as a named driver.

She was eventually confronted in 2019 about the faked claims which spanned a three and a half year period but was not charged until earlier this year.

She has since paid back £1,800 but still faces repayments spanning another 31 years.

At Manchester Crown Court Howarth faced jail after admitting two offences of making false statements to get a financial benefit between June 2015 and December 2018 – but was given a 12-month community order after a judge criticised the delay in the case coming to court.

She will carry on paying back the money at £150 a month – meaning she will be 63 when the debt is fully paid.

Earlier Howarth broke down in tears as the court heard how she been obtaining benefit on the basis she was living alone with her daughter.

Mark Kellet prosecuting said: “She claimed Universal Credit: Live Service for herself and her child on the grounds that she had no income other than child benefit, and no one lived in her household other than her and her child.”

She later took part in a telephone review of her benefit and she detailed there was no change in her circumstances, the court heard.

“But investigations showed, in fact, that during that period, her partner, Adam Carter, was living at the address,” Mr Kellet added.

The persecution detailed how, in June 2016, Mr Carter took out a loan with Amigo Loans, giving the address in Droylsden and from June 2015, to April 2019, he had a credit card with Capital One, giving the same address on the application and the credit card.

He also had a bank account with Halifax, giving the same address, and also his employment record for Balfour Beatty in September.

“Mr Carter also held motoring insurance with Admiral Group, registered at the address, and Miss Howarth was a named driver.

“She was interviewed in November 2019 and when asked about Mr Carter, she stated they had been a couple for years but not lived together. She said they had lived together some time ago, but it had not worked out.

“She said Mr Carter stayed at her accommodation when seeing their daughter, and he paid her rent. She said he would give her money.

“She was informed in 2019 that the case would go to a decision-maker and it was explained that she would have to repay the overpayment regardless of if a prosecution was brought.”

The defendant has been repaying the outstanding money at £150 per month. So far, she has repaid £1800.

Figures revealed between June 3, 2015, and December 2, 2018, Howarth was paid £48,280.53 under the Universal Credit: Live Service scheme and under the Full service programme between December 2018, and November 2019, she was overpaid by £10,720.40.