March 9 2014 Latest news:
by Sam Gelder
Thursday, January 2, 2014
A payment error by Havering Council that took direct debit rent payments a week early has caused chaos for outraged residents.
Though the funds were meant to be taken from the accounts of tenants tomorrow, the transactions went through on Friday, leaving many facing bank charges and financial difficulties.
Grounds maintenance worker Harry Brown, 23, of Leamington Road, Harold Hill, said he felt let down by the council, and it was only due to his bank that he didn’t face a weekend in darkness.
He said: “I went to get my gas and electric on Friday and pay by card but it was declined. When I found out why I phoned the council but they said there was nothing they could do until Monday.
“They said they would get the finance department to call me – but they didn’t.”
Fortunately, TSB cancelled the direct debit and returned funds to his account.
He added: “I am so lucky. If they hadn’t done that I would have had no gas and electric all weekend. It was no thanks to the council though. I feel let down.”
The council has apologised to residents, with a letter going out to all affected tenants on Monday, confirming it would refund any bank charges made because of the error.
Emergency arrangements have been put in place to help those in immediate need.
Cabinet member for housing, Cllr Lesley Kelly, said: “We understand how much this would have inconvenienced our residents and apologise unreservedly for the error.
“Anyone who had to pay bank charges as a result of this will receive a full refund.”
Affected residents should contact the housing office at Chippenham Road, Harold Hill, showing a bank statement.
Cllr Kelly also urged all those in immediate need to contact the emergency out of hours line on 01708 433 399 for support and advice.