May 24 2013 Latest news:
Lizzie Dearden, Reporter
Thursday, May 31, 2012
Havering Council has taken money from around 1,000 people without warning.
A “systems fault” on Tuesday used bank details from credit and debit cards to take payments, some of which were over £100.
The council says some money paid in October and April was “inexplicably delayed in the systems” run by an external supplier.
Mum-of-five Debbie McNess, of Gooshays Drive, Harold Hill, had £161 taken out of her account.
She said: “They have left me with no food, I’ve got three children to feed. That money was meant to get me thorough the bank holiday weekend.
“I can’t do anything for the Jubilee now. My husband had to ask for a loan from work to get us through.”
The council has launched an investigation into the failure and written to all affected residents.
Mrs McNess said: “A letter won’t feed my children. I want my money back. It’s wrong, what right did they have?”
The 39-year-old insists she made her October rent payment - and is attempting to recover the money.
Cabinet member for customer services, Cllr Michael Armstrong, said he was “sorry” for the mistake.
He said: “These are not duplicated payments but many people will naturally have assumed the payments went through last year.
“We understand that many local businesses and families are already struggling financially and cannot afford to have money removed from their accounts that they were not expecting.
“Anyone who paid by debit card and has been left without enough money to manage this month should contact us. We’re truly sorry and we’re here to help.”
The council will pay any financial charges caused by the error.
If your money has been taken and you want to have a penalty paid or need financial assistance, call 01708 434343.