A GOLDTHORPE woman has pleaded guilty to benefit fraud after claiming more than £2,500 more than she was entitled to.

Diane Peterson 54, of Beever Street, Goldthorpe, admitted failing to inform the council of her true financial circumstances when she appeared before Barnsley Magistrates Court on 18 August.

She was investigated for failing to declare when her bereavement benefit ceased, her tax credits commenced and when she started work. By failing to declare these changes, she obtained £2087.84 in housing benefit and £523.98 in council tax benefit from May 2009 to April 2010.

Mrs Peterson admitted that she had acted dishonestly in failing to declare changes in her income and that she had also submitted a false declaration in respect of starting work.

She pleaded guilty to two charges - one of failing to report a change in circumstances and a second of submitting a false declaration. In mitigation, her solicitor Mr Brook stated that his client had no previous convictions and was suffering stress due to the recent deaths of both her son and her husband.

He added that Mrs Peterson was very remorseful and was repaying the overpayment. Her solicitor submitted that Mrs Peterson had also lost her job due to attending court that day and would have to claim job seekers allowance.

The probation service recommended a Community Order for 12 months with a requirement for 80 hours unpaid work. The Magistrates agreed with this recommendation and made no order for costs.