South Shields dance shop owner claimed £7,000 in benefits despite inheritance windfall

A shop boss who continued to pocket thousands of pounds of hand-outs after receiving a £37,000 inheritance pot has been slapped with a curfew.

Tracy Hancock falsely claimed £6,889 worth of Housing Benefit and Jobseekers Allowance payments after failing to disclose the sum from the sale of her late mother’s home.

The 34-year-old mum-of-one, who set up her own dancewear shop, Dance Palace in Westoe Road, South Shields, last year, wrongly received Housing Benefits from South Tyneside Council from January 26 to August 17 of last year and Jobseekers Allowance from the Department of Work and Pensions from January 22 to July 15 of last year.

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Hancock admitted two counts of dishonestly failing to disclose a change of circumstances at South Tyneside Magistrates’ Court.

Jeanette Smith, prosecuting, said: “The limit for having such capital while receiving benefits is £16,000, this is clearly over that.

“In interview she said she didn’t realise she had to notify the authorities”

Laura Croft, defending, said Hancock’s claim had been legitimate at the outset.

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She said; “She is the sole carer for her daughter and is already paying back the amount.”

Hancock, of Ladysmith Street, South Shields, was given a two-month electronically-monitored curfew from 8pm to 7am each day and must pay costs of £85 and a £60 victim surcharge.