A MARRIED woman pretended she was single to claim nearly £20,000 in benefits.

Natasha Windiate, aged 24, had claimed Jobseeker’s Allowance, housing benefit and council tax benefit as a single person since November 2008.

The claims related to her current address in Chedworth Drive, Warndon, Worcester, and her previous addresses in Randwick Drive and at another property in Chedworth Close, which she had rented in the city.

Investigators found Windiate had failed to declare that she was living with her husband Adam Windiate at the same address.

Mr Windiate was working while she was continuing to claim benefits.

Windiate denied they were living together when she was interviewed about it in October 2011 and February 2012.

However, by the second interview her benefits claims had been cancelled and she confirmed they were married on November 26, 2011.

The joint investigation by Worcester City Council and the Department of Work and Pensions revealed Windiate had received overpayments of £7,647.67 in Jobseeker’s Allowance and £12,256.92 in housing benefit and council tax benefit because of her fraudulent claims.

Windiate pleaded guilty to the charges brought by the council at Worcester Magistrates Court. In mitigation, her solicitor Sarah Brady said Windiate was utterly ashamed of what had happened.

The court was told Windiate accepted she had become financially intermingled at an early stage with Adam Windiate and that she should have declared the change in her circumstances.

Windiate has a six-month-old baby and suffers from anxiety and depression, the court was told.

Magistrates ordered her to fully repay all the benefits to which she was not entitled, gave her a conditional discharge of 24 months and was told to pay prosecution costs of £500.