An epic blunder by Lambeth Council’s housing department will see them overspend their budget by more than £14m over two years.

Bungling officers have already wasted millions of pounds by booking accommodation for the borough’s homeless which was never used.

Between 200 and 300 properties - intended as temporary accommodation and rented through long term contracts with private landlords - have laid empty for more than a year because of a wild over-estimate of how many dwellings were needed.

The blunder caused the majority of the department’s £6.5m overspend last financial year- 60 per cent of its total budget - and is the catalyst for the £7.6m overspend council finance officers predict for this year.

Cabinet member for finance and resources Jim Dickson admitted the fiasco showed “serious operational failings in calculating supply and demand” and said those responsible would be reprimanded accordingly.

The catastrophic failures which led to the overspend are outlined in an internal management review published this week by the council, which will be made available to the public in the middle of next month.

Liberal Democrat leader Councillor Ashley Lumsden said this was not good enough. “Residents have the right to see the report now,” he said. “Taxpayers will absorb this fiasco through how much they pay.”

He said the report has not answered concerns effectively and has called for an immediate independent review.

He claimed the report still left open the possibility that the overspend was fraudulent because the properties did not actually exist.

Coun Dickson categorically denied this, saying the report was “full and robust” and no evidence of fraud had been found.

Coun Lumsden also criticised the Labour administration for not filling the properties with other people in the borough needing accommodation.

He said: “There are thousands of residents in the borough who need somewhere to live. Why didn’t they fill the properties with other people on the housing list who are desperate for somewhere to live? To leave them empty is madness.”

Coun Dickson said because of the nature of the contracts, people from the housing list were not eligible for temporary accommodation.

He said: “We are currently looking at how we can better manage the temporary accommodation with other forms of accommodation.” He said this could include filling the accomodation with asylum seekers.

Coun Dickson said he would not resign over the incident and the council’s finances were in their best state for 30 years.

The Streatham Guardian asked to see the report but was told it would only be available once the public was allowed to see it.