MORE than 1,000 people living in sheltered accommodation are set to get a share of a £1million windfall after being overcharged for their heating for six years.

Anyone living in sheltered accommodation or tower blocks where there is a communal heating system are set to be refunded by the council and South Essex Homes, which runs the housing for the council.

Some tenants could receive up to £1,400 after making overpayments for heating and hot water between April 2009 and April 2015.

One resident in Trafford House sheltered accommodation in Manchester Drive, Leigh, said: “We all received letters stating they had been overcharging tenants by up to £4.29 a week.

“Apparently this has only just come to light and they are now going to repay the money in a one off payment to each tenant.

“I’d just like to know where they are going to find the money. I thought they were supposed to be skint.”

The tenant, who asked not to be named, added: “I’ve not been here long so will get about £230 but some have been here for the full six years and stand to get about £1,400.

“I can pay my credit card off. What a result!

“I worry what services will suffer to cover this cost but I won’t be giving it back.

“Surely there must be checks in place to make sure this doesn't happen.”

A council spokesman admitted the tenants had been overcharged and would be reimbursed in a one-off payment.

He said: “The council has, since 2009, been charging tenants for communal heating, based on estimated usage and costs, which has led to an over-recovery of money from those tenants who live in accommodation with communal heating systems. This over-recovery has recently been identified and therefore tenants affected will be reimbursed by a one off sum in the next few weeks.

“This affects approximately 1,100 tenants and the amount of repayment will depend on how long an individual tenant has been paying the heating charges based on estimated usage and costs.”

David Norman, councillor responsible for housing said: “Heating charges from 2008/09 to 2014/15 were based on actual costs plus an allowance for estimated increase in gas costs each year. Despite this only resulting in a 10 per cent increase in that time, we have found that the money recovered was more than the energy consumed.”