A FRAUDSTER who stole more than £6,000 from the public purse has been ordered to carry out unpaid work.

Benefit cheat Joanne Shepherd received overpayments of £2,099.13 in income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance, £273.85 in income support and a total of £3,703.93 in housing and council tax benefit after she failed to tell authorities of a change in her circumstances.

From March 2010, the 36-yearold claimed the benefits while living at a property she formerly rented in Little Priest Lane, Pershore, and her current address in Appletree Road, Pershore.

She stated in her applications that she was a lone parent and had savings below the limit of £16,000. But a joint investigation by the Department for Work and Pensions and Wychavon District Council revealed Shepherd had failed to declare she had exceeded the savings limit for a period of time, meaning she no longer qualified for benefits.

It was also found that she was living with her partner at the same address, who was working full-time while she claimed benefits.

When first interviewed about the matter in October 2012, Shepherd admitted she held the capital and that her partner had recently moved in with her, but had failed to inform the DWP and Wychavon of these changes.

Her case was heard at Worcester Magistrates Court where she pleaded guilty to charges of failing to report changes in her circumstances.

Magistrates sentenced her to a 12-month community service order with a requirement that she carries out 80 hours of unpaid work, as well as pay costs of £85 and a £20 victim surcharge.

She will also have to fully repay all the benefits she falsely claimed, some of which have already been paid back.

Nick Jefferies, head of shared services at Wychavon District Council, said: “We take benefit fraud seriously and continue to investigate and take action against those who are fraudulent.

“Residents claiming benefits should get in touch with us if their circumstances change.”