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Thursday, 21 August 2014

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Barrow pensioner must pay back 93p – after 21 years

A RETIRED welder from Barrow has been ordered to return a benefit overpayment from 21 years ago – of just 93p.

50062378B002
PENNIES COUNT Mike Gardiner of Barrow with the letter from Liberata which says he was overpaid by 93p in benefits in 1993. It’s the first he has heard about this in the 21 years since the overpayment pictures by HARRY ATKINSON REF: 50062378B002

Mike Gardiner, 72, of Ancaster Street, Barrow, received a letter from Barrow Town Hall dated April 15 2014, telling him he was overpaid by less than £1 in 1993.

The former contract worker was briefly unemployed in 1993 and received unemployment benefit.

But Mr Gardiner has questioned why Liberata, which works with Barrow Borough Council to manage the authority’s revenue and benefits service, sent the printed ten-page document through the post as he believes the cost of postage and processing the case will be more than the overpayment itself.

Mr Gardiner said: “It’s just baffling that someone could sit there and work it out years later. Where has this been for the last 21 years?

“You hear of all sorts of money that the council loses, I couldn’t believe this is a top priority.

“It’s easier to write the debt off. It probably cost them more than 93p with all the postage and paper they’ve sent.

“I don’t know how they want it paying. I was thinking of giving them it in instalments!”

The bill of 93p is in relation to an overpayment in benefits between April 1, 1993 and April 4, 1993.

The letter, from the director of resources at Barrow Town Hall, tells Mr Gardiner that he must pay off the tiny debt within 14 days, and he must pay it separately to his council tax. The bill can be paid off in several ways, including by cheque, by cash at any post office, or by direct debit.

Mr Gardiner’s wife, Susan, said the letter could easily confuse people “without their wits about them”.

She said: “Anyone could read the letter and get confused and worried. It wasn’t until the last page we realised it was only 93p Mike owed.

“There is no point contesting it as it’s such a small amount. It’s very peculiar.”

When the Evening Mail went to print, no Liberata spokesperson had commented on the matter.

Have your say

I have today received an apology from the Local Authority regarding the overpayment notification letter. Although they have stated that they will be investigating the 'system issue' and to ignore the previous letter, they haven't officially said that the notification will not be re-issued.
Because they have admitted a system issue the monies requested are most certainly classed as non-recoverable write-offs.

@carl, I think you may wish to reword your statement that you "opened a letter for the previous occupants of" your house since it is an offence to intentionally do so!

Posted by Compo on 28 April 2014 at 18:56

Barrow Town Hall,

Do you set out to make your self look like clowns? How do you expect the public to behave when it sees this sort of childish nonsense occuring? Get yourself on basic accounting courses please and learn how to stop wasting local resident's money. You have a responsibility to do that, just in case you had forgotten.

Posted by Keith Nichols on 28 April 2014 at 11:52

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