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Fraud row lands EDS in yet more hot water

Sends out letter accusing housing benefit claimants of cashing missing cheques

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EDS has made it into the headlines again, but not for the right reasons. The latest instalment in the blighted history of managing council finances in the UK concerns over one thousand computer generated letters accusing housing benefit claimants of fraud. The letter, which reached 1,400 people in Kingston upon Thames, Surrey, informed them that: "Your overpayment has increased because you have cashed a cheque that has been reported as missing." A spokeswoman for EDS said that the error occurred in a commonly used piece of software. She said: "The important thing is that no one has been materially harmed. We have apologised profusely for our mistake." She could not explain how the problem had happened. Although the company's director, Tony Knight, sent out apologies immediately, Wyn Evans, the policy spokesman for the Liberal Democrats, was infuriated. "This is the final straw," he said. "It's time to accept that Kingston's poorest residents have suffered enough due to gross incompetence from the council." EDS said that it was a unique situation, and should not re-occur. It also said that it was in discussions with the supplier of the software over the issue. ®

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