CLARE SKAIFE, 34, of Castle Garth, Thornton-le-Dale, claimed housing and council tax benefit as a single parent on a low income. An anonymous referral was received by Ryedale District Council which stated that Skaife had her partner living with her undeclared. A joint investigation was conducted by Veritau, who investigate fraud on behalf of the district council, and the Department for Work and Pensions.

Skaife was interviewed under caution and admitted she had failed to declare to the council and the Department for Work and Pensions that her partner, who was employed in full-time work at the time, had moved in to the property.

As a result of her fraudulent activity, Skaife was overpaid £1,316.68 in housing benefit, £212.39 in council tax benefit and £2,627 in income support.

On August 29, Skaife pleaded guilty to all charges put to her at York Magistrates' Court and was sentenced to 100 hours of community service, ordered to pay £85 in court costs and a £15 victim surcharge.

Angela Jones, business support manager at Ryedale District Council, said “This sends a clear message that the council takes fraud very seriously and people should know that they run the risk of being prosecuted if they are not honest about their circumstances.”

A spokesman for Veritau said: “This is another example of a good result in the fight against fraud. The council will not tolerate this type of criminal behaviour, at any level, and action will be taken against those who are abusing the system.

"We’d like to thank the member of the public who brought this crime to our attention and encourage anyone with any information on fraudulent activity to phone the confidential fraud hotline on 01904 552935 or email"