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Rainbow House charity founder guilty of benefit fraud

image captionJoanne Mawdsley received the UK Community Action Award in 2007

The founder of a charity for children with disabilities in west Lancashire has been sentenced for benefit fraud.

Joanne Mawdsley, 38, collected almost £12,000 in carer's allowance over a five-year period while earning £1,800 a month from Legacy Rainbow House.

Blackpool Magistrates gave Mawdsley a six-week curfew order and ordered her to pay £100 costs.

Mawdsley received the UK Community Action Award from Tony Blair for her charity work in 2007.

"It was a grave mistake but it was an oversight and I offered to pay the money back but it was too late," Mawdsley said after the hearing.

"I am gutted it has happened and I am paying the price for it."

Rare genetic disorder

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) said because of the level of fraud involved they had no choice in prosecuting her.

A spokesman for the DWP said they may impose fines rather than court prosecutions "if it's the first offence and the overpayment doesn't exceed £2,000."

Mawdsley said she hoped it would not affect Legacy Rainbow House.

"I love helping the children there and will continue to do all I can to help them," she said.

Mawdsley founded Rainbow House in 2001 to provide services for children with health issues like her two sons, who have a rare genetic disorder.

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