A benefit cheat who will take 30 years to pay back the money he swindled has been given a suspended prison sentence.

Jamie Foster illegally claimed almost £50,000 from the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) over a four-year period after failing to disclose a change in his personal circumstances.

The 33-year-old was claiming carers allowance between April 2018 and January 22 and income support between October 2017 and January 2022 despite running his own waste collection business.

Teesside Crown Court heard how Foster had already started paying the money back to the DWP but it would take almost 30 years at the current rate of repayment.

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John Crawford, prosecuting, said Foster had illicitly received a total of £49,050 during that period.

He added: “Although he was initially entitled to both forms of benefit, he failed to declare the fact he had received funds from other businesses such as waste collection business and selling vehicles.”

Foster, of Ennerdale Crescent, Skelton, east Cleveland, pleaded guilty to two charges of fraud by dishonestly failing to disclose information to the DWP.

Dr Christopher Wood, mitigating, said his client continues to care for his partner and urged the judge to spare him from custody to enable him to continue to repay the cash.

He added: “When he comes into more money through the business - he is also paying out of his savings – he intends to pay more to help bring it down.”

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Judge Christopher Smith sentenced Foster to nine months in custody suspended for 18 months.

He said: “For a long period of time you allowed your original legal benefit claims to run at a time when you had failed to inform the benefits agency of your change in circumstances.

“As a result, you were paid just shy of £50,000 you were not entitled to.”

Foster was also ordered to carry out 150 hours of unpaid work and attend 32 rehabilitation activity requirement days.