Taking on extra hours, while claiming more than £10,000 in benefits she was not entitled to, led to a Manorbier woman being sentenced to unpaid work.

Maxine Marshall, of Gray Avenue, appeared before Haverfordwest magistrates on Tuesday, September 11.

Marshall, 48, pleaded guilty to dishonestly failing to promptly notify Pembrokeshire County Council that she was in employment, which she knew would affect her entitlement to housing benefit between March 21, 2015 and June 26, 2016.

She also admitted failing to inform the Department for Work and Pensions of a change in her circumstances regarding her Employment Support Allowance (ESA).

Vaughan Pritchard-Jones, prosecuting, said Marshall had initially made valid claims, before she found work cleaning caravans.

“If she had worked under 16 hours (a week) she would not be here, but records show that she did work more than 16 hours for a considerable period.”

The court heard that Marshall received an overpayment of £7,882.56 in ESA and £2,180 in housing benefit, and measures were already in place to recover the money.

Jonathan Webb, defending, said Marshall, who was previously of clean character, had contacted the benefits agency to inform them that she was working, and told them when her hours increased.

“She was told it would average out over the year, and that it would be fine.”

Marshall found herself in trouble when her contract was extended.

“This is not a nice way for this lady to learn her lesson.

“She now works as a chef in a local pub. She is industrious and pays her taxes etc. She know comes to court for something that happened in 2016.

“It is an error, and a costly one at that.”

The court heard that Marshall was ‘very embarrassed and ashamed’ about her situation, but thought she had been following the correct procedure by informing the agency that she was working extra hours.

Magistrates imposed a 12-month community order with 80 hours of unpaid work.

She was ordered to pay £85 court costs and an £85 surcharge.