Evelyn Griffiths, aged 63, fraudulently claimed nearly £20,000 in employment allowance and more than £12,000 in housing benefit over the course of four years between 2014 and 2018.
Shrewsbury Crown Court heard that Griffiths was saving the money as a “nest egg” as she was worried about paying her bills and losing her home, a three-bedroom Severnside Housing property where she lives alone.
Her claims for the benefits were originally legitimate, but she failed to let the authorities know when she came into money.
Griffiths was investigated after a credit match prompted the DWP to look into her dealings.
Prosecutor Rachel Pennington told the court: “At one point, in 2017, she had £37,000 in her bank accounts.”
Griffiths, of Wingfield Gardens, Shrewsbury, pleaded guilty to two counts of dishonestly failing to notify a change in circumstances.
Kevin Jones, defending Griffiths, said: “She can’t really say where it’s gone. It’s been spent. She had a small, short-lived problem with gambling.. This is not a greed case.” He added that Griffiths was worried about losing the home she lived in for 30 years and had a problem with hoarding.
Judge Peter Barrie told Griffiths: “Other people who were working hard and paying taxes in order for you to receive those benefits. I’m quite sure you knew perfectly well that you had significant savings and that would be relevant. It’s not clear where that came from, but at one point you had £37,000 in the bank.
He sentenced her to 29 weeks in prison, suspended for 12 months. She is paying some of the money back in instalments from a legitimate benefit claim she is currently making.