A mum who gave her children the best education money can buy is standing trial accused of fraudulently receiving more than £360,000 in benefits and tax credits – by claiming her kids had special needs.
The woman in her 40s, who cannot be named for legal reasons, had claimed her children suffered various medical problems.
She allegedly fooled paediatricians and government officials to claim carer’s allowance and disability living allowance as well as tax credits and housing benefit over a period of 10 years.
However, some of the children attended a fee-paying stage school and others even appeared in well-known musicals, it was alleged.
One of them auditioned for a television talent show and another later took up ballroom dancing. It is alleged to be one of the biggest single over-payments of benefits and totals £363,250.06.
The court was told that the mother was questioned under caution after Department for Work and Pensions’ officers and police searched the family’s home. They found a ‘vast quantity’ of material relating to the children’s performances. These included DVDs of home video recordings of the children and copies of The Stage, the performing arts newspaper.
During and interview with DWP officers, the mother said one child took 25 minutes to walk 100 yards and was in need of supervision.
But the officers questioned how the children were able to take part in a theatre production.
A DWP officer who had been to see the production said: “The children I saw on stage, as far as I was concerned, did not look like the children on the claims forms in front of me.”
The defendant said: “That is an environment they cope with. Everything off stage they struggle with.”
In a second interview in February 2010 she was asked why one of her children had favourable school reports while suffering from various medical issues.
She said this was because the child was at a ‘private school and they teach you so you understand’.
The jury has previously been told that the defendant claimed carer’s allowance and disability living allowance as well as tax credits and housing benefit.
The payment from carer’s allowance and DLA alone amounted to £239,754.35.
The jury has already been shown a video featuring the talents of the children. It also showed them going to bed, eating and playing.
The trial continues.