St Albans council tenants receive multiple copies of identical letter

A postbox on Knightsfield

A postbox on Knightsfield - Credit: Archant

Tax payer’s money was spent sending multiple copies of an identical letter to households around St Albans.

St Albans district council (SADC) recently posted out a note to council house tenants letting them know that rents were decreasing by one per cent next year.

It read: “Under the provision of the Welfare Reform and Work Act 2016, all local authorities and housing associations are obliged to reduce rent by one per cent each year from 2016/17 to 2019/20.”

However, 2,233 residents received two copies of the letter and 169 people found four copies on their doorstep.

If second class stamps were used, costing 58p, SADC spent nearly £1,600 more than was necessary.

A 64-year-old woman who lives in Colney Heath, but would prefer to remain anonymous, said she had received two copies: “It’s a complete shambles, it is ridiculous, and it is disgusting.

“To be honest, when I saw them both I thought there was one for rent and one for council tax. Then I read them and thought, ‘Hang on, this is the same letter’.”

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She posted about it on a St Albans Facebook community and found “no end of people” in the same situation.

The long-term resident had a message for anyone who underestimated the issue: “Everybody has got to remember, they don’t just work for the tenants of the council.”

She was tempted to collect all the letters up and leave them at the Civic Centre in St Albans for SADC officers to recycle.

A 75-year-old London Colney man, who would also like to remain anonymous, said: “It is an absolute waste of tax payer’s money.

“I am annoyed with the council, but the trouble is that I am always annoyed at the council anyway - they don’t do anything for us.

“They should be spending the money on people who need it, not wasting it. They don’t know what they are doing.”

Head of housing at SADC, Karen Dragovic, explained that it was an administrative mistake.

She said: “We are sorry a recent mailing of letters to some of our tenants went wrong.

“A data file mix up led to two copies of the letter going to 2,233 tenants, and four copies going to 169. Clearly that’s not good enough and we’ll be reviewing our processes to minimise the chance of this sort of human error happening in future.”