“The key question is, if they plan to recover £400,000 more next year than they did this year, exactly how much are they currently overpaying?”
– Liberal Democrat leader Cllr. David Franks.
Luton Council met on Monday (19th February 2018) to confirm a Council Tax hike of almost 6% and as part of the approved budget agreed that over the next 12 months, they will try to increase the amount they recover of Housing Benefit which has been overpaid to claimants by £400,000.
“It’s great that they plan to increase the amount of overpaid Housing Benefit they recover but they need to be reminded that this is tax payers’ money they should not have paid out in the first place”, says Liberal Democrat leader on the Council David Franks. “The key question is, if they plan to recover £400,000 more next year than they did this year, exactly how much are they currently overpaying?”
“Unfortunately, when I asked the question at the Council meeting no-one was able to give me the answer. Is this because they did not know or because the answer would be too embarrassing?”
“The other issue is that Housing Benefit is paid to people who cannot afford to pay their rent, so they are often people who are struggling. Unless they have deliberately and fraudulently claimed benefit to which they are not entitled they could well have difficulty in paying it back. All the more reason why more effort needs to go into making sure people are not overpaid.”