An anonymous member of staff at a housing association accused of turning a blind eye to massive overcharging said an investigation has not uncovered the true scale of the problem. 

Circle Housing Merton Priory (CHMP) stuck by a statement published on its website last Friday evening over the investigation into alleged fraud in its repairs service, sparked by a Wimbledon Guardian story.

It has said the scale of the overcharging was just £173,650, there was no fraud, and that none of its residents were overcharged.

Sept 2014: Firm investigates whistleblower's over-charging claims

Monday: Repairs company pay back £170k after Wimbledon Guardian stories spark investigation

Wednesday: MP slams Circle Housing over 'frightening' scale of overcharging within Merton repairs service

Your Local Guardian:

But the staff member, who said they worked on CHMP's "front line" repairs and maintenance team, said colleagues were "absolutely astonished" by the conclusions.

"Staff were so concerned that repairs never completed were being charged for that we would place tape over a light fixing and check after Keepmoat said they attended to see if the seal had been broken but more often than not it would be intact", they said. 

They challenged: -

- that none of the overcharging was fraud. 

- that leaseholders were not overcharged. 

- that overcharging only came from scaffolding and "recalls" (where Keepmoat re-charged for jobs they did not do properly the first time). 

In the letter they said: "There were hundreds if not thousands of communal repairs charged throughout the period of the contract, which were never completed nor attended.

"These included communal lighting, entry door repairs and supposed roof repairs which leaseholders were charged for.

"Many staff members were angry with what was taking place as it was us who bore the brunt of complaints from residents and we felt powerless to do anything, as complaint after complaint to the managing director and staff at the highest level fell on deaf ears.

"Staff were so concerned that repairs never completed were being overcharged for that we would place tape over a light fixing and check after.

"Keepmoat said they attended to see if the seal had been broken but more often than not it would be intact.

"We raised this time and time again with management but were left with an impression that we should ignore this and keep quiet.

"We were even told to show a united front with Keepmoat and tell residents that things were improving when in fact we knew things were not, but only getting worse and worse.

"It was a case of senior managers burying their head in the sand, to try and ensure the partnership with Keepmoat worked because of the massive investment made and so that very senior managers would not be left with egg on their face, no matter what the cost was to our tenants and leaseholders.

"The cost to them has been great and I would say easily runs into hundreds and thousands of pounds.

"Motivation at Merton Priory is very low and knowing that such an important issue has been fudged, especially after staff raised their concerns, makes me and other staff feel that there is no moral authority within the organisation.

"Circle places their reputation above their residents who we are supposed to serve, most of whom cannot afford to incur costs for repairs which were never carried out.

"Finally the question must be asked, why was there such a long delay in making available the investigation outcome? 

"Especially as the investigation paints a very positive picture, surely such a positive outcome would have resulted in a speedy release of the report findings, but no, it took forever which each of us, including tenants and leaseholders, can reach our own conclusions as to why!

"As for my own conclusion...a total and utter fudge from start to finish by an organisation I feel ashamed to work for.

"I just hope that lessons will be learnt and that Circle will in future listen to staff concerns and put residents first instead of their own reputation and hiding poor decision-making.

"Sent with all sincerity from a very disillusioned and demotivated member of staff who wishes that he/she did not have to write such a letter anonymously, but knows not towing the corporate line, no matter how wrong, would result in possible dismissal."

An initial audit by Rand Associates in September found a £6,346 overcharge for repairs on just 20 homes - and the work should have been slightly more than £10,500.

Keepmoat's surveyors inspected the same properties and said the overcharge was much lower, at £3,122.35. 

CHMP and Keepmoat then came to an agreed figure to be paid back, but CHMP has not said how much the final reclaim was. 

The subsequent investigation by independent property assessors Savills visited 1,100 of Merton's 9,500 properties and was paid for by Keepmoat.

The final report has not been made public, or the workings of how it concluded that only just over £170,000 was to be paid back.

But executive director of governance Deborah Upton said her four-page report summarised all the findings of Savill's review.

It is understood the Savill's report, which was due to be completed in May, included data of its findings and at a meeting attended by CHMP and Keepmoat the £173,650 figure was agreed. 

A CHMP spokeswoman said today: "We would like to reassure all staff members and stakeholders that property experts, Savills have confirmed that these historic pricing discrepancies are not unusual in the early days of contracts of this size and scale, and that there is no evidence of fraud.

"We have been reimbursed and both ourselves and Keepmoat have fully implemented the robust control processes in place."

Keepmoat has not responded to requests for comment.

Were you overcharged or do you have evidence of overcharging? Comment below, or email