Benefits cheat claimed she was a lesbian for £18k payout


Caroline Butler

Caroline Butler, a 42-year-old from Rochdale, claimed she was a lesbian in order to hide her relationship with the father of her children and claim benefits. She convinced the authorities she was single, and received almost £18,000.

Now a court has ordered her to repay the cash - but can this approach really work?


The Daily Mail reported that Butler, of Chatburn Avenue in Castleton, claimed housing benefit, council tax benefit, employment support and income support between 2010 and 2012, which came to a total of £17,900.

Fraud investigators looked into the case and her story started to fall apart. She said that she was a lesbian and Andrew Donaldson was just a friend, who she had only known for five years.

However, the Manchester Evening News reported that investigators found her 13-year-old child's birth certificate naming Donaldson as the father. At that point she admitted she had known him for longer, but denied he was the father. In a second interview she admitted that he had been living with her for six months.

She was arrested for failing to inform the DWP that she was living with Donaldson - who was employed and could have supported her financially.

The Mirror reported that the court found her guilty of benefit fraud. She has been ordered to repay all the money, plus £400 costs and £60 victim surcharge. She was also given a 12-month community order and 225 hours of unpaid work.


The courts are increasingly demanding that benefits cheats repay the money. The Department of Work and Pensions has said that if courts don't order the repayment of stolen benefits, the government will take them back to court so they can confiscate the cash.

The courts have demanded some major sums in this way. This month alone those who were told to pay up included a Wigan woman who was jailed and ordered to repay £120,000, a Blackpool fraudster who was ordered to repay £30,000, a Reading man who will have to repay £5,000, and three cheats from Warrington who will have to pay back £19,000 between them.

However, it doesn't always work in practice. Last week a mother from South Shields was found guilty of benefits fraud amounting to £90,845 taken over eight years. She was ordered to pay it back out of the benefits she is currently receiving. The problem is that the rate she can afford to pay means she'll be in debt for the next 286 years.

In September, a benefits cheat was jailed for cheating the system out of £94,000 over 4 years - after failing to admit that her boyfriend was living with her. The Judge ordered her to pay it back, but added that since she was going to continue receiving benefits and repaying the cash from them in effect: "The taxpayer is going to have to pay it back."

But what do you think? Let us know in the comments.