Suffolk County Council recovers £430,000 in payments to deceased people and duplicate invoices

Thousands of pounds had to be recovered. Picture: THINKSTOCK

Thousands of pounds had to be recovered. Picture: THINKSTOCK - Credit: Archant

More than £430,000 of payments to dead people and duplicate invoices had to be recovered by a Suffolk council last year, new figures reveal.

Anti-fraud and corruption papers published by Suffolk County Council outlined a £142,500 overpayment because of duplicate invoices, £122,000 paid to residential care providers for people who had died, and £8,500 overpayments to deceased pensioners from the Local Government Pension Scheme.

A further standalone check not done in relation to the National Fraud Initiative identified another £158,000 in payments to residential care for deceased patients.

But Suffolk County Council bosses have said that while they were instances of error and not fraud, all the money has been recovered.

Richard Smith, Suffolk County Council’s cabinet member for finance said: “In an organisation of this size, with a budget of £498million, overpayments and duplicate payments will occur from time to time.

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“However, we have the processes and controls in place to minimise this happening and we take immediate action to recover any funds.

“We have a 100% success rate of recovering overpayments made to residential care providers and duplicate invoices being paid.”

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A council spokesman said that the £122,000 represented a very small amount of council spend – less than 1% – and added that the duplicate invoice error was by one of its wholly owned companies.

Elsewhere, 3,671 concessionary travel passes were cancelled after the owner died and the council were not made aware, while 289 blue badges had to be cancelled for the same reason.

The report confirmed that there was no cost to the taxpayer as all the money had been recovered, but planned to strengthen controls to reduce the number of errors.

The report said: “Whilst error, rather than fraud has been concluded, internal audit has worked with adult care to strengthen the controls in place to minimise such occurrences and these last two data matches show that an improvement has been made.”

It added that the “size and complexity” of the council meant “some irregularities are inevitable and therefore a number of investigations were needed.”

The county council audit committee will discuss the matter this week.

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