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Hull MP condemns 'Laurel and Hardy' Council payments fiasco

Diana Johnson MP has slammed Hull City Council’s leadership over the payments fiasco that has seen 9,500 Hull residents charged double for rents and council tax.

The Hull North MP is demanding that as well as refunding the sums taken in error the authority fully compensates residents who have incurred extra bank or credit card penalty charges as a result of the Council’s error.

A total of £900,000 has been wrongly taken from an unknown number of bank accounts by Hull City Council following a "computer error". In media interviews the Lib Dem Leader of Hull City Council described the error as “unfortunate”.

A statement released by Hull City Council said that the error, discovered on Wednesday 9 January, resulted in electronic payments of council bills being duplicated and taken a second time from some customers' accounts. The authority has set up emergency cash centres in the city to refund people facing cashflow problems as a result of the blunder.

Diana Johnson MP said: “Most people realise that IT errors do happen sometimes, but I am appalled by the evident complacency of Hull City Council’s Lib Dem leadership over this Laurel and Hardy fiasco.

“There also seems to be a lack of urgency about putting right an error that has left thousands of Hull people out of pocket - through no fault of their own.

“The Council seem to be dealing with the repayment of this money in the same bureaucratic way that they dealt with flood hardship payments last year. It is not acceptable that, at a difficult time of year for many people, some have been told that it could take days to return the money to their accounts.

“Residents have been caused real hardship and are having the inconvenience of having to queue up at Council cash centre in efforts to resolve the problem. I am demanding that my constituents who have been caught up in this town hall farce not only have this money returned as soon as possible, but that the Council reimburses them fully for all the bank and credit card penalty charges that some will suffer due to the Council’s mistake.

“After all, this is Hull residents’ money. It does not belong to Hull City Council.”