Social worker from Lowestoft admits benefits fraud

A SOCIAL worker, who advised people on how to claim welfare pay-outs, dishonestly claimed nearly �38,000 in benefits, a court has heard.

Jacqueline Izzard made the claims despite owning two Lowestoft properties – one in Normanston Drive, the other in Oulton Road.

The 56-year-old admitted evading paying council tax to Waveney District Council by deception and obtaining income support by failing to declare she had capital in excess of the prescribed limit.

She was given a 12-month prison sentence suspended for 18 months, placed on supervision by the probation service for 18 months and given a four-month curfew between the hours of 6pm and 6am.

Sentencing her at Ipswich Crown Court yesterday (Monday), Judge Rupert Overbury said the offences had been committed between 2003 and 2008 and involved a benefit overpayment of �38,000.

He said during the period of the offences Izzard had charged a significant amount of rent for one of the properties she owned and had received a large sum of money from the sale of another property. She had also transferred �27,000 out of her accounts which he said looked as if she had been divesting herself of her assets.

Judge Overbury said: 'These offences were fraudulent from the outset.'

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However, he said Izzard had a number of health issues and had been diagnosed with bowel cancer, angina and depression.

'Before these offences you were an honest, hard-working woman of impeccable character,' said the judge.

He said an aggravating feature of the case was at the time of the offences she was advising others about how to obtain benefits.

Deidre Collins, for Izzard, said her client had no previous convictions and but for the onset of illness she would not have found herself in the benefit system.

She said Izzard was currently in remission from cancer and was deeply sorry for what she had done. She had been repaying the money at the rate of �66 a week since last year, the court heard.

A Proceeds of Crime Act hearing will take place later in the year.

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