A JUDGE has let off a £73,000 benefits cheat — saying Britain’s “creaking” handouts system is too easy to fiddle.
Judge Angela Nield spared mum of two Joanne Mole, 47, from jail despite her defrauding the taxpayer for six years.
She told a court that the “cumbersome” system was “all too often open to misuse”.
Judge Nield went on: “It is not easy to detect claims of this nature which are made fraudulently which results in large amounts of money being taken from this system, which is already overrun and creaking.”
Mole got £44,500 in child tax credits, £27,000 housing benefit and £1,891 council tax support by falsely claiming she was single.
For six years she failed to tell officials in Bury that her husband had moved back into her home in 2010.
Mole admitted fraud at Manchester crown court and wept after being handed an eight-month suspended jail term.
The court heard she had credit card debts and used the money to “make ends meet”.
Judge Nield told her: “These offences without question cross the custody threshold.”
But she went on: “There is no evidence you used this money to live an extravagant lifestyle.
“You used this money to make ends meet and did so because of a woeful ability to manage finances.
There are a number of people who will be immediately affected by you going immediately to custody.”
However John O’Connell, the TaxPayers’ Alliance chief executive, said: “Not only is the money needed elsewhere, but the injustice of people cheating a system designed to help the most vulnerable is very keenly felt.”
The Department for Work and Pensions said: “We’re tackling the small minority who try to cheat the system by working closely with police and local authorities.”