A MARRIED couple have avoided jail despite swindling more than £25,000 out of Tendring Council.

Debra and John Burgess, of Langley Close, Dovercourt over-claimed housing and council tax benefit for more than four years as Mr Burgess failed to notify the council about his job as a Heavy Goods Vehicle driver at Pointbid Logistics Systems Ltd.

The pair began claiming benefits in May 2009 but failed to declare there had been a change in circumstances when Mr Burgess, 50, returned to his job in September of the same year.

The overpayment was £20,058.68 in housing benefit, £4,169.77 in council tax benefit and £880.13 in local council tax support making a total of £25,109.58.

Magistrates gave them both a 12 month community order and ordered them to do 120 hours of unpaid work each, which would have been 180 hours had they not pleaded guilty to the charges.

The pair will have to pay a victim surcharge of £60 and £695 in costs.