A CLYDEBANK pensioner falsely claimed around £12,000 in benefits over a seven-year period by failing to tell the authorities she was working.

A court heard that Margaret Clason had been “forced” to go back to work in order to repay the cash.

Clason, of Hood Street, appeared in court for sentencing on Friday after pleading guilty to “knowingly failing to give prompt notification in the prescribed manner to West Dunbartonshire Council” of a change in her circumstances between March 14, 2011 and March 25 last year, by not disclosing that she was working for Swissport and Sodexo.

The 71-year-old thus obtained housing benefit and council tax benefit to which she was not entitled; fiscal depute Sean Maher told Dumbarton Sheriff Court on Friday that the sum she obtained was “approximately £12,500”, though defence lawyer Gail Campbell said the exact sum was closer to £12,000.

Clason is repaying the money at £400 per month and, the court heard, has reduced the outstanding sum to around £7,000 as a result – meaning it will be the spring of 2021 before the fraudulently claimed cash is returned in full.

Ms Campbell said: “She is making substantial payments and has been forced back into employment to continue to make those payments.”

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Sheriff Maxwell Hendry told Clason: “I’m quite certain that you find yourself very embarrassed by this. But you are entirely the author of your own misfortune.

“We have to see that the money you should never have received is going to be repaid in full. Once I am satisfied about that, my mind will then turn to a punishment.”

Sentence was further deferred until January for further monitoring of the repayments.