South Shields mum wrongly claimed £8,000 in benefits

Tracy Lugg  appeared at South Tyneside Magistrates' Court
Tracy Lugg appeared at South Tyneside Magistrates' Court

A mother-of-five carried on claiming benefits after her partner moved in to help look after the children.

Magistrates heard Tracy Lugg, 37, knew she should have told the authorities of her change of circumstances but didn’t do so until she had been over-paid more than £8,000 in three benefits.

Lugg told officials one of her children had been born prematurely which meant she had not been thinking clearly, South Tyneside Magistrates’ Court heard.

Lee Poppett, prosecuting, said: “It is clear the claims began legitimately. Those claims were for housing benefit, income support, and child tax credit.

“However, in 2015 Ms Lugg’s partner moved into her house, a move which she should have notified the authorities about.

“By the time she did, there had been an over-payment of £8.154.

“Ms Lugg was compliant when she was interviewed about what had happened.

“She said her daughter had been born prematurely, which meant she needed help looking after the children while she was spending time in hospital.

“She apologised for what she had done.”

Lugg, 37, of Kipling Avenue, Hebburn, admitted three offences of failing to disclose information to make a gain for herself, all between February and August, 2015.

She was of previous good character.

Catherine Fowle, defending: “Ms Lugg had been with her partner for four years, although they were not living together.

“When her daughter was born prematurely, she needed to spend a lot of time in hospital helping to look after her.

“Her partner spent more time in the house looking after the other children, and gradually moved in permanently.

“Ms Lugg knew she was obliged to tell the authorities, and to be fair to her she did, although she delayed doing do.

“The money is being repaid slowly but surely from her legitimate benefits claim.”

The court heard Lugg has since had twins.

“Unfortunately one of the twins has a lung condition,” added Ms Fowle. “This means Ms Lugg has two children in the house needing oxygen for lung conditions.

“Her mother helps with childcare as much as possible, but she works, so Ms Lugg is a lady with a lot on her plate.”

Lugg was sentenced to a conditional discharge of six months, including 10 days of rehabilitation activity.

She was ordered to pay £170 costs at £5 per week.