A BENEFIT fraudster has admitted stealing more than £48,000 from the taxpayer.

Arran Slater, aged 34, of Sandys Road, Ombersley, admitted two counts of dishonestly failing to notify the Department of Work and Pensions and Wychavon District Council of a change of circumstances which would affect her entitlement to benefits.

Slater appeared before magistrates in Worcester on Monday. Both offences took place between February 7 2009 and and January 20 last year. She failed to notify either the council or the DWP that she was living with Mark Sinfield as a married couple. This allowed her to claim £48,641 combined in income support and housing and council tax benefit.

Clare Linehan, prosecuting, said the guidelines were that Slater be given a prison sentence of between 12 weeks and 18 months and the case should go to Worcester Crown Court for the next hearing. She said: "It is towards the higher end rather than the lower end." John Rogers, defending, agreed the case should go to the crown court.

Slater was given conditional bail to co-operate with the probation service in the preparation of a pre-sentence report. The next hearing is at the crown court on February 21.

Jo Hodges, the chairman of the magistrates' bench, said: "Our sentencing powers are limited and not sufficient for this particular case."