Latest Public Sector News

19.02.19

‘Dishonest and corrupt’ DWP worker jailed for £40k universal credit fraud

A Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) employee who paid herself more than £40,000 in universal credit payments has pleaded guilty to fraud and been jailed for a year.

Lauren Wainwright, 32, used claimants’ national insurance numbers to make 54 separate fraudulent payments to her own bank account, Preston Crown Court heard.

She was described by judge Graham Knowles QC as “thoroughly dishonest and corrupt,” and in sentencing Wainwright said her crimes of stealing publicly funded money were a “serious and persistent abuse of her position.”

The caseworker from Thornton Cleveleys, Lancashire, was caught making a suspicious payment in July 2017, sparking an internal investigation which revealed she had made 54 payments totalling £41,500 using the national insurance numbers of 12 universal credit claimants.

She started making the payments four months into her £18,000-a-year job at the DWP, with the fraudulent payments continuing into 2018.

Wainwright’s lawyer, Daniel Prowse, claimed his client had only used the money to pay the bills and debts caused by her husbands gambling addiction, and she pleaded guilty to the fraud charges.

After her arrest, Wainwright told police: “All the other trainees laughed about how easy it was, and I was the idiot that tried it.”

Judge Knowles sentenced her to a year in jail and said: “What you did was more serious because of the cost to the public. That money was funded by taxation from people who are paid for the work they have done.”

Wainwright now faces proceeds of crime hearing which will determine how much of the £40,000 she will have to pay back.

“The offending was persistent and repeated and via the abuse of your position as a civil servant administering universal credit.”

The DWP stated: “We have zero-tolerance towards fraud. Any suspected cases are investigated by specialist staff who will refer all evidence immediately to the police.”

 Image credit - Kirsty Wigglesworth/PA Archive/PA Images

Comments

There are no comments. Why not be the first?

Add your comment

 

related

public sector executive tv

more videos >

last word

Prevention: Investing for the future

Prevention: Investing for the future

Rob Whiteman, CEO at the Chartered Institute of Public Finance (CIPFA), discusses the benefits of long-term preventative investment. Rising demand, reducing resource – this has been the r more > more last word articles >

public sector focus

View all News

comment

Peter Kyle MP: It’s time to say thank you this Public Service Day

21/06/2019Peter Kyle MP: It’s time to say thank you this Public Service Day

Taking time to say thank you is one of the hidden pillars of a society. Bei... more >
How community-led initiatives can help save the housing shortage

19/06/2019How community-led initiatives can help save the housing shortage

Tom Chance, director at the National Community Land Trust Network, argues t... more >

interviews

Artificial intelligence: the devil is in the data

17/12/2018Artificial intelligence: the devil is in the data

It’s no secret that the public sector and its service providers need ... more >

the raven's daily blog

NSPCC: Working together to improve the support available for children who have been sexually abused

08/10/2019NSPCC: Working together to improve the support available for children who have been sexually abused

Hayley Clark, the acting head of development and impact at the NSPCC, talks about the significant gap in support services for children who have been sexually abused and the Ho... more >
read more blog posts from 'the raven' >

editor's comment

25/10/2017Take a moment to celebrate

Devolution, restructuring and widespread service reform: from a journalist’s perspective, it’s never been a more exciting time to report on the public sector. That’s why I could not be more thrilled to be taking over the reins at PSE at this key juncture. There could not be a feature that more perfectly encapsulates this feeling of imminent change than the article James Palmer, mayor of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough, has penned for us on p28. In it, he highlights... read more >