That's by the by though, let us turn to the article.
Having read it about six times, asking my wife to read it and losing sleep (truly) thinking about it I've come to the conclusion that Medway Council have done nothing wrong.
The Second part of the letter, which is the one where the accusation is founded states that "Official error" is still reason to reclaim overpayment (as in my pay).
I had to refer to the Housing benefit regulation from 2006 to answer this, specifically the mentioned HB 100. Although the CECO letter has added the "its no one's fault", which I presume is a way of saying sometimes stuff gets lost in the system or there's a hick up in the way great trundling behemoth bureaucracy sometimes does - the Council still have a right to claim the overpayment.
This is due to section (2) but is severely debatable. It all relies on the Landlord that received the benefit.
This is where the debate should lie, in the term "reasonable." It is one of those grey terms that is very elastic, worded by a Whitehall lawyer so as to give those with the best legal teams (i.e Government) the best chance of winning.
Much like the term "Reasonable force."
The law, unfortunately, is fairly clear cut and unless the Resident can prove beyond "Reason" the Landlord was unaware then the money must be repaid. The third fabricated point could have been problematic if the Tenant was not hamstrung by Point (2).
Further to this though I offer the following observations;
Extra weight should be added to this as the Tenant is completely blameless in this case as it is clearly an "Official" mistake. This MUST be taken into account by the council.
3) This unfortunate incident would have occurred no matter who was in charge of the Council be it Tory, Labour, Libdem or Independent. I would recommend that the relevant portfolio holder take a look at the incident or set up an enquiry into the CECO's actions on this occasion.
As I stated at the beginning I've no ties to the Council so this isn't a case of me cow towing to any political master or machine - I've gone over it repeatedly and it is with regret that I report these findings.
However as I also mentioned - I'm no expert in the field and someone with more knowledge on the workings of the bureaucratic machine may tell you something different and I would sincerely urge the Tenant to seek advice from their Ward Councillors immediately - If there is a genuine reason why this isn't possible then they should contact Medway CAB or maybe their MP.