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Havering Council paid out £55,000 by accident between 2009 and 2011, it has been revealed.

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And an undisclosed amount can’t be recouped – because one of the companies it paid twice has gone bankrupt.

The figure came to light after Cllr Clarence Barrett (Residents’ Association, Cranham) asked Havering’s cabinet member for value how much the council had paid out in duplicate payments in each of the last three years.

Cllr Roger Ramsey (Conservative, Emerson Park) told him £44,168 had been paid in error in 2009/10, and £11,403 the following year.

But he admitted IT issues mean the council doesn’t know how much was given out in erroneous overpayments in 2011/12 – or whether any of it has been recovered.

Speaking to the Recorder after the meeting, Cllr Barrett said the figures were “of concern”.

“The fact one of the companies has gone bankrupt is exactly why you need to be absolutely on top of duplicate payments – not waiting a year to find out about them,” he added.

“The proof is in the pudding – so it’s a worry that we don’t know what the figures are for last year. The situation could easily happen again.”

Cllr Ramsey (Conservative, Emerson Park) told the Recorder this week: “Steps are being taken to recover the money we are owed. We have a new IT system in place to detect duplicate payments so that they are flagged up more quickly and we’ve changed the way we work with our suppliers to reduce the risk of these errors happening in the future.”

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