A HUSBAND-and-wife benefit cheat couple who enjoyed lavish holidays and spending sprees were lucky not to have got longer jail sentences, an MP has claimed.

“Shopaholic” Nicola Rogers was sentenced to 14 months in prison, while her husband Bryan received nine months for a six-year fraud which between them reached a total of almost £69,000.

The couple of Poplar Way, Ringwood initially claimed benefits legally but then continued to claim while 48-year-old Mr Rogers was working for three family-owned companies, splashing out on luxury holidays, a Range Rover, scuba diving gear and lavish parties.

Desmond Swayne, the MP for New Forest West, said: “My gut view is that cheating on benefits is a serious matter and that message needs to be sent through the sentencing system.

“There’s nothing more infuriating for people who are working hard themselves and up against it, having to pay their bills, having to struggle, than seeing other people cheat the system.

“It’s only right that it should have been a custodial sentence, preferably a longer one.”

And Christchurch MP Chris Chope said: “People who scrounge or deceive the authorities in order to enrich themselves bring the genuine people who are genuine benefit claimants into disrepute.

“It’s very important that the integrity of the system is maintained and that those who are not entitled, do not receive.

“What we need to do is ensure that people who do try and better the system receive deterrent penalties.”

Passing sentence on Mr and Mrs Rogers, Judge John Harrow said: “In my judgement, this was deliberate, calculated, prolonged dishonesty.”

He added their spending, in particular Mrs Rogers’, had been “reckless and unnecessary.”