Rutland County Council writes off £74,000 overpayments

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A council has decided not to ask staff to repay £74,000 they were mistakenly given in overtime payments.

Rutland County Council overpaid 51 employees and underpaid 58 others during the last four years because of confusion over their contracts.

The mistakes came to light when a payroll worker noticed some overtime payments had been authorised when staff should have taken time off in lieu instead.

On Monday councillors decided most of those affected will not be asked to give the money back as they had claimed it in good faith. It means the council may only recoup £9,293 of the £83,271 that was overpaid.

Councillor Martyn Pocock (Con), portfolio holder for resources, said: “This was clearly a difficult decision for councillors who had to balance protecting the public purse with making a decision that was fair to those affected. After a good debate I am confident we reached the right outcome.

“The payroll overpayments and underpayments are extremely regrettable. There is no suggestion of any wrongdoing; this is an unfortunate case of human error, misunderstanding and a series of genuine mistakes.”

The overpayments total £83,271. They include 16 people being paid double time on a Sunday when they should have received time and a half, 15 staff being paid overtime when they should have received the time off instead and 11 staff mistakenly receiving enhancements for weekend working.

These 42 people will not be asked to repay the money they were overpaid, which totals £73,978.

A further nine members of staff were overpaid as a result of “one-off mistakes” and council chief executive Helen Briggs will investigate their cases and try to recover the money where possible. Their overpayments total £9,293.

The 58 employees who were underpaid by a total of £31,877 will be repaid.

A council spokesman said the money will be paid from the council’s reserves budget so no services will be affected.

A review of the council’s payroll system is now underway to minimise the risk of future mistakes and the council will be negotiating contract changes with Trade Unions.

After the meeting, Coun Alan Walters (Ind) said he had asked about possible overpayments to third parties but was not reassured by answers given at the meeting.

He said he still had concerns about the quality of the council’s control systems.