Council pays out £4million too much in housing benefits

Echo: Council pays out £4million too much in housing benefits Council pays out £4million too much in housing benefits

CASH-STRAPPED Southend Council has paid more than £4million too much to benefits claimants...and only claimed half back.

Councillors will hear tomorrow a total of £4.3million was overpaid.

A report, by Christine Lynch, the council’s revenue group manager, also reveals less than half of the overpayments have been recovered since April last year and £278,692 has been written off.

Such overpayments usually occur because people claiming income support have come off benefits, or their circumstances have changed, and they have failed to tell the council.

Some of the debt is due to council error where the authority has been informed of changes to people’s circumstances, but failed to act.

Councillors had to slash £10.4million from the budget this year after a 4 per cent drop in Government grants, and may have to find more than £11million savings next year if the Government agrees further cuts.

Independent group leader Martin Terry says the figures are worrying at a time when the council needs to tighten its belt.

He said: “The council tries all the time to tighten up on financial handling through the audit committee. This question has been raised before at scrutiny and doubtless will be raised again at audit.

“We rely on the public to be open, efficient and honest, but there have been some fairly high profile cases where money has had to be recouped through the courts.

“It’s certainly a concern. We need to look at the financial controls we have. I am not convinced and am very concerned our financial controls.”

Andrew Moring, Southend councillor responsible for corporate services said: “Housing benefit overpayment most commonly occurs when rent allowances or rebates are paid to people who are no longer entitled to receive the original award; the most frequent cause is a change in claimants’ personal circumstances which they fail to make the council aware off.

“Any change in income should be notified to the council immediately to ensure that claimants receive the correct benefits payments.

“We have a dedicated team within the benefits department which works to recover overpayments; so far this financial year it has recovered more than £1.93million .

“One of the main recovery methods is to make deductions from any on-going benefit, while other options involve using legal action through the County Court.”

Comments (12)

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3:04pm Tue 7 Jan 14

Displeased of Shoebury says...

£4 million owing simple solution . Sack the person in charge no pension or other benefits and then the rest of those who work in Civic Centre may wake up and do their job correctly
£4 million owing simple solution . Sack the person in charge no pension or other benefits and then the rest of those who work in Civic Centre may wake up and do their job correctly Displeased of Shoebury

3:26pm Tue 7 Jan 14

Southend Andy says...

So its SBC fault that benefit cheats don't tell the echo, yes its down to SBC if they have been told but can't blaime them if they are not told. But will still get the people who will point there finger at the council no matter what happens.
So its SBC fault that benefit cheats don't tell the echo, yes its down to SBC if they have been told but can't blaime them if they are not told. But will still get the people who will point there finger at the council no matter what happens. Southend Andy

3:31pm Tue 7 Jan 14

fletch12107 says...

You stupid incompetent people that manage public money!!! A small part of this overpayment would have kept Priory House care and dementia home open and maybe a library or two. Sack the people responsible and their managers for failing in their job. Will they? More chance of hell freezing over. Why not? Because it aint their money and nobody cares.
You stupid incompetent people that manage public money!!! A small part of this overpayment would have kept Priory House care and dementia home open and maybe a library or two. Sack the people responsible and their managers for failing in their job. Will they? More chance of hell freezing over. Why not? Because it aint their money and nobody cares. fletch12107

4:36pm Tue 7 Jan 14

jayman says...

to put this sum into contrast. its less then 2% of Southend councils debt.
to put this sum into contrast. its less then 2% of Southend councils debt. jayman

5:16pm Tue 7 Jan 14

jolllyboy says...

The new tory idea of universal credits must make it difficult for the council. It is also too complicated these days with job seekers allce, income support etc etc.
The new tory idea of universal credits must make it difficult for the council. It is also too complicated these days with job seekers allce, income support etc etc. jolllyboy

5:28pm Tue 7 Jan 14

Loosers says...

Displeased of Shoebury wrote:
£4 million owing simple solution . Sack the person in charge no pension or other benefits and then the rest of those who work in Civic Centre may wake up and do their job correctly
Well said! It's time poor performers were sacked no matter where they work. Too many people sitting behind a desk doing the minimum possible.

This 'error' is a disgrace, and somebody must be held responsible - the captain of the ship would be a good place to start.
[quote][p][bold]Displeased of Shoebury[/bold] wrote: £4 million owing simple solution . Sack the person in charge no pension or other benefits and then the rest of those who work in Civic Centre may wake up and do their job correctly[/p][/quote]Well said! It's time poor performers were sacked no matter where they work. Too many people sitting behind a desk doing the minimum possible. This 'error' is a disgrace, and somebody must be held responsible - the captain of the ship would be a good place to start. Loosers

5:48pm Tue 7 Jan 14

Nowthatsworthknowing says...

fletch12107 wrote:
You stupid incompetent people that manage public money!!! A small part of this overpayment would have kept Priory House care and dementia home open and maybe a library or two. Sack the people responsible and their managers for failing in their job. Will they? More chance of hell freezing over. Why not? Because it aint their money and nobody cares.
Please try getting it into perspective, further more, don't blame the individuals at th council, blame those dishonest claimants holding out their coffers, saying more, more, more.
[quote][p][bold]fletch12107[/bold] wrote: You stupid incompetent people that manage public money!!! A small part of this overpayment would have kept Priory House care and dementia home open and maybe a library or two. Sack the people responsible and their managers for failing in their job. Will they? More chance of hell freezing over. Why not? Because it aint their money and nobody cares.[/p][/quote]Please try getting it into perspective, further more, don't blame the individuals at th council, blame those dishonest claimants holding out their coffers, saying more, more, more. Nowthatsworthknowing

5:55pm Tue 7 Jan 14

Living the La Vida Legra says...

The trouble is you can't sack a PAYE Employee if they are bad at their job!
The trouble is you can't sack a PAYE Employee if they are bad at their job! Living the La Vida Legra

6:28pm Tue 7 Jan 14

Loosers says...

Living the La Vida Legra wrote:
The trouble is you can't sack a PAYE Employee if they are bad at their job!
Nonsense; with appropriate warnings, in accordance with whatever personnel regulations are in place, of course you can sack somebody doing a bad job!
[quote][p][bold]Living the La Vida Legra[/bold] wrote: The trouble is you can't sack a PAYE Employee if they are bad at their job![/p][/quote]Nonsense; with appropriate warnings, in accordance with whatever personnel regulations are in place, of course you can sack somebody doing a bad job! Loosers

7:39pm Tue 7 Jan 14

fletch12107 says...

Nowthatsworthknowing wrote:
fletch12107 wrote:
You stupid incompetent people that manage public money!!! A small part of this overpayment would have kept Priory House care and dementia home open and maybe a library or two. Sack the people responsible and their managers for failing in their job. Will they? More chance of hell freezing over. Why not? Because it aint their money and nobody cares.
Please try getting it into perspective, further more, don't blame the individuals at th council, blame those dishonest claimants holding out their coffers, saying more, more, more.
This is the first sentence of the article..."CASH-STRA
PPED Southend Council has paid more than £4million too much to benefits claimants...and only claimed half back" So I am guessing that it is the fault of individuals at the council because it is they who have not claimed it back.
[quote][p][bold]Nowthatsworthknowing[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]fletch12107[/bold] wrote: You stupid incompetent people that manage public money!!! A small part of this overpayment would have kept Priory House care and dementia home open and maybe a library or two. Sack the people responsible and their managers for failing in their job. Will they? More chance of hell freezing over. Why not? Because it aint their money and nobody cares.[/p][/quote]Please try getting it into perspective, further more, don't blame the individuals at th council, blame those dishonest claimants holding out their coffers, saying more, more, more.[/p][/quote]This is the first sentence of the article..."CASH-STRA PPED Southend Council has paid more than £4million too much to benefits claimants...and only claimed half back" So I am guessing that it is the fault of individuals at the council because it is they who have not claimed it back. fletch12107

12:14am Wed 8 Jan 14

LastLaugh,,, says...

How much the local politicians take in 'housing benefits"?
How much the local politicians take in 'housing benefits"? LastLaugh,,,

7:33am Wed 8 Jan 14

LastLaugh2 says...

Look at what this land spent on Dale Farm, cheaper to offer each a million
Look at what this land spent on Dale Farm, cheaper to offer each a million LastLaugh2

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