Claims that an entire Isle of Man Government department had been overpaid for years were aired during this morning’s House of Keys sitting.

It came after MHK for Douglas North, John Wannenburgh, asked the Minister for the Cabinet Office Kate Lord-Brennan how many public sector staff had been overpaid during the last three years.

Ms Lord-Brennan told Mr Wannenburgh that a written answer had been provided on the subject, saying wage payments made to staff in her department were 98% accurate.

But Mr Wannenburgh then claimed that he had heard of a situation where an entire government department had been overpaid for a number of years.

In an email sent to Mr Wannenburgh following the questions, Ms Lord-Brennan said she was not aware of the claim but pledged to commission an investigation.

She said: ‘It will be of great concern to all taxpayers to hear assertions in the House of Keys this morning that a whole department of Government has been overpaid without challenge or recourse and that an employee or indeed a whole division has been overpaid for five years, again without any challenge or specifics being raised directly (or otherwise) to my knowledge.

‘These matters and others raised this morning would indeed be of great concern if accurate and would have to be investigated based on specifics and information being supplied. I am particularly concerned at the size of the largest individual overpayments.

‘It would not, I feel, be acceptable to cast these matters into the public forum without allowing me the opportunity to arrange for proper investigation of such assertions.  But for that some specifics are needed.’

MHK for Onchan, Julie Edge, also claimed during the House of Keys sitting that she had heard of instances where money was being taken out of people’s accounts without their knowledge because they had previously been overpaid.

Ms Lord-Brennan emphasised that individual circumstances of overpayments should not be discussed within the House of Keys, while also re-affirming that it is not the Office of Human Resources’ (OHR) job to liaise with civil servants.

She said: ‘Within the departments, managers and accounting officers, they are the staff that have the responsibility to be liaising with their employees and actually preparing information to be processed by payroll.

‘Payroll is the function that is carried out within the OHR. It's not the OHR or Cabinet Office that is carrying out management aspects in all the multiple government departments and statutes. I understand there may be frustration where there are issues, but they really do need to be raised by the appropriate channels.’

In her follow up email, Ms Lord-Brennan stated that correspondence would be sent to all government employees to remind them what processes to undertake where they establish either an underpayment or overpayment of pay.