Galway Girl Ed Sheeran
Over the last 5 years Milton Keynes Council has accidently overpaid 54 councillors and former councillors a total of £24,450.
A routine check revealed the error on the Council payroll system, in which some councillors had been paid up to £598 too much.
The administrative error affected pay between April 2004 and December 2009.
The councillors affected were told about the mistake just before Christmas and are now in talks with Council staff about how to best proceed.
Norman Miles, the Leader of the Labour Party in Milton Keynes, told Heart:
"All members, I know, who are affected - and it's not all the current members - will of course re pay at as much as they can afford but some members don't have a great deal of money and income, others have better incomes. Individual arrangements will be made to pay back as much as can be afforded as quickly as possible.
Sam Crooks is the leader of Milton Keynes Council and admits they won't get all the money back:
"Sadly one or two of the people affected have actually died, because this affects former councillors as well as people who are current councillors. And secondly for one or two people the amount of money is so small the council may decide it's not worth picking up on."
Mr Crooks has also told Heart an internal audit will be done to find out how the mistake happened.
Here's a breakdown of what you need to know about the over payment:
How much is the basic councillor allowance? Currently £9,663 pa
How much was the overpayment? The overpayment amounts to £8.66 a month since 2004.
Has the council contacted the relevant councillors a yet? We have informed them that the payment has now been stopped, and that the council will be contacting them about repayment
How many of the councillors who were overpaid are ex-members? 24 ex-Members.
Is it likely that councillors will repay back the extra money? The council will approach each Member individually and will be offered a reasonable period to repay the money
How did the administrative error occur? A tax-free payment of £8.66 per month was agreed to cover the use of Members’ homes for office purposes. Up until April 2004 this tax free part was paid within the overall Basic Allowances. In 2004 Basic Allowances were revised and it was decided to pay the tax free allowance of £8.66 separately. However, an administrative error meant the revised Basic Allowance still included the £8.66; resulting in a double payment.
What were the entire expenses paid out over that period? The sums have changed over the years, but the total Basic Allowances over 5 years will be in the order of £2m so the overpayment amounts to about 1.25% of the total.