I fiddled £13,000, but I’ve got 57 years to pay it back

Margaret O'Raw

Margaret O'Raw

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A BENEFITS cheat who is repaying £13,000 she fiddled out of taxpayers will take nearly 60 years to clear the debt.

Margaret O’Raw, who claimed income support for three years while working as a cleaner, is handing over just £4.40 per week.

At that rate it will take her around 57 years to pay back the whole amount.

The 55-year-old, from Linlithgow, West Lothian, was yesterday fined £150 at Livingston Sheriff Court after admitting failing to tell officials she was not entitled to the benefits.

Despite pretending she had no job, O’Raw admitted working as a cleaner while claiming the benefit between September 2008 and July 2011.

Sheriff Simon Collins QC also pointed out that the “very serious prognosis” in an illness self-reported by O’Raw had not been backed up by a doctor.

But Raymond McMenamin, defending, said that his client had started a course of chemotherapy in April this year which had finished just last month.

He said: “She’s still coming to terms with the aftermath of that. From personal experience it may be that GPs are simply reluctant to give a prognosis.”

He said the Department for Work and Pensions had already taken steps to deduct money from her.

He told the court: “Only about £4.40 a week is being deducted from her benefit. They’ve already held back a further sum of £476, so she won’t receive that.

“There’s also another amount of money that will also be applied to the debt.”

He added: “Miss O’Raw successfully appealed against refusal of Disability Living Allowance.

“She’s entitled to £3000 or thereabouts of backdated money, but it’s likely that money will never be paid to her and is likely to be paid to the appropriate department. While all that is going on, she’s still in receipt of some money by way of benefits and she’s expressed a willingness to pay as much as possible.”

Sheriff Collins fined O’Raw £150 and ordered her to pay it at £10 a fortnight.

He told her: “That fine would have been higher but for the fact I’m told you’re 
repaying the overpaid amount, and that you’ll have a significant repayment when your backdated Disability Living Allowance is paid to you.

“I’m also conscious of your health difficulties and the consequences of these for you. In the circumstances I can be more lenient than I’d 
otherwise be.”