Army computer system overpays by £783,347

An error in the use of a new British Army computer payment system has meant that junior army officers have been forced to pay back a sum of money following an overpayment amounting to over three quarters of a million pounds.

Early this week Conservative MP for North East Milton Keynes Mark Lancaster said in a Commons Debate that cash amounting to £783,347 had been erroneously given to recipients on various pay grades due a mistake made in data entry into the much maligned Joint Personnel Administration system.

“After the introduction of joint personnel administration-the new payment computer system in the Army there has been a problem with some junior ranks in the British Army being effectively overpaid for a number of months,” he said. “That has amounted to a sizeable sum for some individuals. I do not think any fair-minded person would suggest that that money should not be paid back; it is an overpayment and we would all expect to pay it back.”

“It should not have to be paid back in a single lump sum in one pay cheque; those concerned should be allowed to pay the money back over time.”

The overpayment of an incremental pay increase in fact went undetected for three years due to it being split over a large period of time, with a total of 485 officers receiving between £1,000 and £3,000 dependent on pay grade.

A source at the Ministry of Defence told TechEye that, as Mr Lancaster said, those who received the over payment would not be forced to pay back the sum in one go, claiming that the MoD would not be doing anything to cause financial hardship. 

Furthermore it is not within legal guidelines to take more than three days wages from a salary of one month.  Of course it may come as little comfort to those who are continuing to pay off the mistake, as, while they may not have noticed the extra money coming in, it is fair to say they will certainly miss it going out.

The MoD source was adamant however that the overpayment was not due to a fault within the system, which it insists works fine – rather a human administrative error involving the transfer of details.