Home News Local & Flintshire News

Flintshire finance chief sorry for £635,000 council benefits error

FLINTSHIRE County Council’s most senior finance officer has apologised over a benefits blunder which could cost the authority more than £680,000.

As the Chronicle reported earlier this week, a report by the Wales Audit Office identified a catalogue of ‘weaknesses’ in the authority’s complex housing benefit payment system.

It revealed the council had overpaid tenants by more than £235,000 last year and could have to pay back as much as £397,000 to the Department of Work and Pensions due to an overclaim for housing benefit reimbursement.

The report was discussed at the council’s audit committee yesterday (Thursday) and Kerry Feather, head of finance, apologised for the errors.

She said: “As head of service I am very sorry to have to bring this report to you, which contains such significant weaknesses.”

Derwyn Owen, of the Wales Audit Office, said Flintshire County Council had made major mistakes in processing its housing benefit claims two years running – a blunder which no other authority in Wales had made.

He told the committee that the council needs to ‘learn from its mistakes’ in coming years and made a number of recommendations for improvement.

Mrs Feather said many of these recommendations are already being acted up and the situation is being dealt with as a matter of urgency.

She added: “It is important to stress that it will not have any impact on individuals’ benefit entitlement.”