Mum With Two Jobs Who Continued To Claim Benefits Lands Up In Court
A FORDHAM mother took on two jobs as she struggled with mounting debts but continued to claim benefits, Ely magistrates heard on Tuesday. Carole Moorley, 44, from Mill Lane, was supporting her husband and 15-year-old son by working at Handy Plaice Fish an
A FORDHAM mother took on two jobs as she struggled with mounting debts but continued to claim benefits, Ely magistrates heard on Tuesday.
Carole Moorley, 44, from Mill Lane, was supporting her husband and 15-year-old son by working at Handy Plaice Fish and Ley Stores in Soham - but she didn't inform East Cambs District Council that she was working while claiming housing and council tax benefit for five months - between April and August this year.
As part of a routine review of benefit claimants, a council officer discovered Moorley, who faced a charge of failing to notify of a change in circumstances while claiming benefit, was working. The court heard that she admitted her guilt immediately - saying she wasn't sure if she was able to hold down a job due to severe depression and wanted to give it a try.
Prior to the case coming to court, Moorley had agreed with the council to pay £17 per week, until her outstanding debt of £1,016.83 was paid off.
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"I was working until I think August last year," she told the court, "I had a break-down and was put on medication. I left my job because of that. At the time my husband was managing to do a few things and my mother helped me out with some savings. It got to a stage where we didn't have any earnings - then my husband tried to get employment as a handyman and earned around £120 a week. This was when we applied for benefit. A couple of months later, he hurt his back and he couldn't go out and do what he had been doing. He's 52 years old and he was finding it difficult even to apply for jobs - there wasn't anything he could do."
"I didn't know if I would be ready for it but I knew I had to work," she added.
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"I basically rolled up at the fish shop and it's the same owner who owns Ley Stores. I never stuck to any hours, I did as many hours as I could but I was still on the medication and I didn't have a contract or anything. I did a lot of holiday cover which might earn me £150 a week but other times it might be £80. I don't know what money I will earn from one week to the next."
The court heard that Mr Moorley had never claimed benefit for his bad back, and Mrs Moorley felt under pressure to support her son, who is still at college and her 20-year-old daughter, who works and pays her mother £25 a week in rent.
Sentencing, magistrate Janet South said: "You know quite well that what you did was totally unacceptable. We have to take into account your financial circumstances and it is pretty obvious that you are struggling. It is also obvious that your husband cannot work and you have got a 15-year-old son which is an expensive commodity these days. It is also to your credit that you are paying back the money."
Moorley was given a conditional discharge and the council asked for £250 legal costs - but magistrates reduced the amount to £100 on learning of Moorley's debts.