South East Wales

£2m housing benefits 'error' by Bridgend council

Bridgend council sign

Housing benefits mispayments totalling £2m may have been made by Bridgend council, a Wales Audit Office report has said.

An estimated £1.9m in underpayments and overpayments were made due to "human error" in 2016-17.

Auditors said the error was "significant" and the council must decide whether to write-off overpayments.

Bridgend council's audit committee will consider the report on Thursday.

The WAO examined 45 housing benefit cases in Bridgend and found 11 of them were incorrect in 2016-17, the Audit of Financial Statements Report said.

Processing mistakes saw claimants short changed or overpaid by anything from 30p to £1,889, with the estimated error across all housing benefit claims being £1.9m for the year.

"The nature of the errors was primarily attributable to human error rather than any fundamental control failure or process weakness," it reads.

WAO said the council should improve staff training and look to repay claimants who have been underpaid and decide whether to "recover or write-off the overpayments".

A spreadsheet error also saw one council official overpaid £2,454 in their "exit package" when they left the council last year.

A council spokesman said it strived for 100% accuracy when processing housing benefit claims.

"Around two-thirds of the errors identified by the report related to amounts of £50 a year or less, or the equivalent of £1 a week," he said.

"All of the inaccuracies have been addressed, and we are in the process of implementing improved procedures."

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