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Pensioner’s anger over council bills - for 4p debt!

A WRITE FURORE ... Les Clark was sent two letters saying he had been overpaid 4p by South Tyneside Council.
A WRITE FURORE ... Les Clark was sent two letters saying he had been overpaid 4p by South Tyneside Council.

A RETIRED TV executive has accused Town Hall chiefs of penny-pinching – after being told he owed them 4p!

Les Clark, 67, of Rembrandt Avenue, South Shields, was stunned to receive two letters informing him South Tyneside Council have overpaid him the meagre amount – and said the cost of sending out the letters would have dwarfed the amount Town Hall officials planned to recoup.

And he is baffled after he received no apology for the issue of the letters, which outlined overpayment of housing benefit and council tax support.

But a spokesman for South Tyneside Council responded by saying the authority had a “legal obligation” to inform customers of such changes -– no matter how small the difference.

Mr Clark, who was a global ICT manager with Gateshead-based God TV, said: “I have been a tenant of South Tyneside Council for over 40 years and I thought I had seen all aspects of ‘council mentality’ until I recently received two letters from them.

“One of three pages of A4 informed me I had been overpaid council tax support and that I owed them money because of it, and the second consisted of two pages of A4 telling me I had been overpaid housing benefit and that I owed them money for that.

“A phone query to them found this was due to their miscalculation earlier in the year and that these outstanding amounts had just come to light.

“No hint of apology for their mistake, just typical forceful council letters, which left you in no doubt that failing to repay this amount would lead to nasty things happening.

“The amount total for the two letters was 4p. The cost involved in producing all the paperwork and delivering it to my door, incalculable, but the experience was priceless.”

Mr Clark received both of the letters, which had been sent by second class post, informing him he had been overpaid by 3p on his council tax support and 1p on his housing benefit

However, he hasn’t been billed for the overpayments, and adjustments have automatically been to cover the new costs in the future.

A council spokesman said: “Mr Clark received a letter advising him of changes to his council tax following a recalculation of his council tax support and housing benefit entitlement.

“The council must by law inform customers in writing of any changes to the support they receive or instalments to the council, no matter how small the difference.”

Twitter: @ShieldsGazVez