COUNCIL staff are being forced to repay more than £175,000 after a series of payroll blunders.

It has emerged that between April 2009 and June 2010 Flintshire Council overpaid its staff by £175,248.

The figures came to light after Connah’s Quay councillor Bernie Attridge decided to investigate when his wife Leanne, who works as a school transport escort, received a letter informing her she had been overpaid by almost £500 in the last financial year.

Cllr Attridge said: “I asked the question after my wife received a letter out the blue to say she had been overpaid. I wanted to see how bad the problem was and the figures have come as quite a shock.

“This is a lot of money and it’s a very serious situation that the council has found itself in.”

Council bosses are now attempting to claw back the overpayments.

Mrs Attridge was initially told she must pay back the money by April, but has now been given 16 months in which to make the repayments.

Cllr Attridge added: “What concerns me is that some people might not be able to afford to pay it back. Anyone with families will struggle.

“In this economic climate we have been told to tighten our belts and now people have to deal with this on top of everything else.”

A total of 247 overpayments were made, but council bosses say the figure only equates to 0.0008 per cent of the total payroll costs.

Helen Stappleton, Flintshire Council’s head of human resources, said:
“Unfortunately, the council has made a number of overpayments in salary to its employees over the last 15 months, which has totalled £175,000. A plan is in place to recover the overpayments.

“While we must reduce the number of overpayments made, it should be noted that these overpayments represent a very small proportion of the council’s total pay bill.

“Out of 119,336 payments made to employees over this period, nearly 100 per cent of these payments have been made accurately and we continue with our improvement programme to reduce overpayments.”

Cllr Attridge said: “I will be calling for this to be referred to a scrutiny committee.

“What does concern me is that I have seen no official council report explaining the issues to elected members who are the custodians of the public purse.

“It is only through my wife being overpaid that I have asked for details – if she hadn’t I wonder if I would ever have found out.”