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Labour condemns delay in giving Havering residents £150 coronavirus relief

Cllr Keith Darvill has criticised the length of time it has taken to make the payments

A councillor has slammed what he calls “an unacceptable piece of mismanagement” by Havering Council, which he claims has seen thousands of people left waiting for several months for a coronavirus relief payment of £150 each.

Keith Darvill, a Labour councillor for Heaton ward, which covers Noak Hill and part of Harold Hill, claims around 8,500 low-income residents in the borough had not received the support that was due to be paid to them in April.

The money was provided by the government as part of a national scheme to support people across the UK.

Havering Council has blamed an IT problem for the delay and says residents started to receive the payments yesterday.

Speaking prior to the news that the money had been issued to residents, Cllr Darvill said: “This is an unacceptable piece of mismanagement by the council. The people who are still waiting for this support are those in our community who don’t need more things to worry about.

“We need this dire situation to be speedily addressed so that those who are struggling financially within our community get their entitlements when they were led to believe this would happen.”

Speaking to Time 107.5FM, he added: “It’s just not good enough for these things to go on. We appreciate we’re in difficult times but something like this should have been resolved much sooner than that and it should be a priority issue.

“I’m surprised we haven’t had people draw it to our attention before now. It’s just amazing that they should go all that time without that financial support which they are entitled to.”

Cllr Darvill said that a resident has shown him a letter from the council, apologising for the delay and saying that the money would be in their account by the end of July.

The Leader of Havering Council, Cllr Damian White, said: “Council staff have been working tirelessly throughout the Covid-19 crisis to get the financial support on offer to our most vulnerable residents and businesses.

“Unfortunately, there was a delay in crediting the extra £150 council tax support to some working age council tax payer accounts. This was due to a development problem with the software.

Havering Council leader, Damian White

“This problem was fixed last week and the extra council tax support is now in eligible residents’ accounts from yesterday (Monday, 27 July). If any resident’s account is now in credit and they pay by direct debit, a refund is being arranged immediately and will show in their bank account in the next 10 days.

“No action to collect council tax was taken against residents while the extra council tax support was waiting to be credited to their accounts. If any resident is struggling to pay their council tax or other debts, they should contact the council tax service online and there is also advice and information on the Havering website which may be useful.”

Cllr Darvill said he will “through our overview and scrutiny process, examine exactly why this has gone on and why we weren’t informed about this earlier.”

For more on this story, and the latest on our other local and national news, listen to Time 107.5FM

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