Mother falsely claimed benefits to pay for second home

Wanted to be in catchment for a better school

Rejiya Mukith

A mother of four has been found guilty of falsely claiming £35,000 in benefits - to buy a second home that would get her children into a good school.

Rejiya Mukith, from Ipswich in Suffolk, lied about her financial situation to claim income support for nine and a half years.

She used the money to finance the purchase of a home in the catchment area of Northgate High School which is rated 'good' by Ofsted. And she even went on to rent out the second property for £450 a month, without telling the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).

Speaking in mitigation, Mukith's lawyer said that she came from a strict Muslim background and hadn't been allowed to work since getting married at 17. She was, though, still expected to provide for her children while her husband was away on long business trips.

The house Rejiya Mukith bought

However, judge Rupert Overbury sentenced her to a 12-month prison sentence suspended for two years.

Parents will go to great lengths to get their children into the right school. More than one in four families has moved house to be in the right catchment area, a recent survey from Santander Mortgages found - and almost half of families in London.

And they pay a big premium to do it, with a Lloyds bank study putting the cost of living near a top state school at an average of £53,000 extra.

Many, though, use shadier tactics by lying about where they live. An ITV News investigation recently revealed that nearly 600 applications to London schools have been rejected because of false or inaccurate addresses in the past five years.

Usually, the fraud involved pretending to live at a friend or other family member's address. Others rented rooms or flats on a temporary basis until their children were given a place.

Some local authorities have even set up special investigations units to catch out parents who lie. Indeed, in 2008 Poole Borough Council admitted it had been tailing three families and spying on them at home. It tried to defend its actions by citing anti-terrorism legislation - but a court ruled this wasn't allowed.

The Best Cities to Live In

The Best Cities to Live In