A BRITISH woman found guilty of committing benefit fraud while living in Spain has been told she must pay back the £88,000 (€100,520) she owes at a rate of just £7.65 (€8.74) a week.
Jayne Kitching has reportedly so far only paid back £400 (€456.91) of the amount she was convicted of falsely claiming from the British government.
The rate of payment, which was agreed by the Department of Work and Pensions, and HMRC, will take the woman more than 958 years to settle her debt.
Kitching was convicted of claiming tax credit from September 2013 to April 2017, on top of income support, disability allowance, and a carer’s allowance, after failing to tell the authorities she had moved to Spain.
The mother-of-two, from Grimsby, was also found guilty of failing to let the UK authorities know her children had been taken into care in Spain.
At her case, a prosecutor said: “The money she claimed was used for ordinary day-to-day living costs and to pay Spanish legal teams over her childcare claims…There was no lavish lifestyle.”
He added: “She gets £2,000-a-month now. She is repaying at £7.65 per month and there is no indication that she has any form of assets.”
Acting judge Abdul Iqbal QC said: “How would they [the authorities] know if she was living in Doncaster, or Grimsby or Malaga?”
He added he was suspending Kitching’s 12-month prison sentence as, ‘an act of mercy towards your children.’ He said: “I hope you are thoroughly ashamed of your dishonesty.”
A Department of Work and Pensions spokesperson said: “Only a small minority of benefit claimants are dishonest, but cases like this show how we are stopping those who cheat the system and divert taxpayers’ money from the people who need it…There are a range of penalties for benefit fraud, and those found guilty have a criminal record. Last year we prosecuted around 5,000 fraudsters and recovered £1.1 billion (€1.26 billion) in overpaid benefits.”
Kitching was reportedly caught out after posting a message on Facebook speaking about moving to Spain, which the authorities were alerted to.