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A 71-year-old man could face jail for fraudulently claiming £36,000 of his dead mother’s pension over six years.

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Last week Robert Hallett, of Little Warley Hall Lane, Little Warley, admitted two counts of dishonestly failing to tell the Department of Work and Pensions his mother was dead, following his employment as her appointee – the person responsible for claiming her benefits.

Hallett’s mother, Nellie Edith Hallett, died on August 9, 2007. Prosecuting, Angela Hughes said between August 14, 2007, and February 4, 2013, Hallett failed to tell the DWP Nellie was dead, and continued claiming her state pension and pension credits to the value of £36,700.

Hallett indicated a plea of guilty. His prosecution under the Fraud Act means he could face up to a decade behind bars.

Fraudulent pension claims cost the taxpayer £152m in 2012/13 – although £160m went unclaimed in the same period through error on the part of claimants and the DWP.

Overpayments through error cost the DWP £266m during the year.

Chelmsford magistrates, who dealt with Hallett on January 2, declined jurisdiction.

He will now be sentenced on January 20 at Chelmsford Crown Court.

A DWP spokesman said: “Benefit fraud is a crime and we are dedicated to catching those who commit it.

“Only a small minority of benefit claimants are dishonest, but cases like this cost the taxpayer money that should be used to help those in need.

“We are determined to find those who we suspect are cheating the system by following up on tip-offs, undertaking surveillance and working with local councils.

“If you suspect someone of benefit fraud, please call the benefit fraud hotline on 0800 854 440 so we can continue to tackle the problem in your area.”

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