MISMANAGEMENT of an energy scheme designed to help those in fuel poverty has damaged Powys County Council’s (PPC) reputation claim councillors.

At the audit committee, councillors listened to a report following an internal investigation of how the ECO (Energy Company Obligation) 2 boiler grant scheme had been run in Powys.

PCC had administered the scheme, receiving £150 from agents for each completed boiler or insulation installation.

But Powys Plumbing Group (PPG) claimed fraud was taking place, with people earning far greater than the criteria suggested, receiving a boiler.

This prompted the investigation by independent auditors SWAP.

Cllr David Thomas (Labour – Cwm Twrch) said: “What concerns me is the reputational damage.

“The people who were working on this, especially the canvassers, gave the impression this was a PCC scheme and my phone was red hot with people asking about it.

“Ultimately the forms came back to the council and we had accepted a process of vetting and were charging £150.

“So there was a responsibility on the council to make sure they were not fraudulent claims but that does not seem to have happened.

“In the report (Housing Sample)  12 per cent of the claims should not have been granted yet those were not discovered until afterwards as part of your investigations.

“It might not be fraud but it’s mismanagement.

“There is a level of blame and someone has to be held to account.”

The report by SWAP said that PPG which had started the investigation by claiming “widespread fraud” was taking place, said that it gave no evidence.

Cllr Linda Corfield (Independent – Forden) contradicted that claim and had been at the discussions between PCC, SWAP and the Plumbing Group

Cllr Corfield, said: “What come through in the report is that the plumbing group were a bit miffed, so they made these allegations.

“They have atually got a lot of evidence they could produce.

“But it puts them in a position of putting their former and future customers in a position where they could be taken for fraud.

“For want of a better phrase they would be “dobbing” their customers in and what would that do to their reputations?

“I wanted to clarify that – they had evidence.”

Cllr Gwilym Williams, (Conservative – Disserth and Trecoed) who as chairman of the health, care and housing scrutiny committee, at a meeting in January, had delayed discussion the implementation of ECO 3, due to concerns of ECO 2.

Cllr Williams said: “We looked at it.

“With the complaints from the Plumbing Group on the day, we threw it out as it was not fit for purpose.

“Scrutiny did its job.

“If we had approved it on the day we would not be here now.”

Cllr David Jones (Independent – Guilsfield) said: “If it’s too good to be true, it is too good to be true.

“It should be clear that someone who is claiming fuel and dire poverty and does not appear on our claimant list, then there should be a question.”

Audit chairman, Cllr John Morris (Liberal Democrat – Crickhowell) said that the report would be passed on to other scrutiny committees to be looked at in greater depth.