The Social Welfare Department has no plans for legal action against a family which refused to repay over $161,000 in overpaid allowances. A spokesman for the Social Welfare Department insisted that the blunder was not caused by the department and therefore it would not carry out any in-house investigation or punish any of its staff. The dispute arose after a woman identified only as Mrs Lee, the mother of a 17-year-old visually impaired girl, was told to repay $161,663 in April after she was accused by the department of failing to report her daughter's admission to a special boarding school under the Education and Manpower Bureau since 1992. Speaking on a radio programme yesterday, senior social welfare officer Ng Wai-kuen insisted that the mother had been covering up the information during the regular reviews carried out by the department every three years. 'There is no maladministration on our part because Mrs Lee had signed the document to declare all the information she provided to us was accurate,' Mr Ng said. 'During the regular reviews, our staff had asked Mrs Lee whether her daughter was admitted to any government-subsidised homes but she had never revealed the fact to us. She kept telling us that her daughter was living with her at home. 'We are talking about public money. Under the law, we have the right to deduct 10 per cent of payment from the monthly subsidies even without the consent of the family to make the repayment. But we would like to discuss with Mrs Lee the repayment arrangement.' Mrs Lee, also on the radio programme, however, rejected the accusation. She insisted she had honestly reported to welfare officers her daughter's admission to Ebenezer School, a well-known boarding school for blind children. 'I told the officers that my daughter had been admitted to Ebenezer School and came home only during weekends,' she said. The mother insisted she had never lied to the department and said that it was 'against her principles' to admit a blunder she did not commit. Mrs Lee also said she was financially unable to make the repayment and that the department had stopped paying the allowance since May. But the department said the daughter was eligible for the allowance but it was the family which refused to approach the department to make an application. Under the current system, a disabled person who is boarding at a special school under the Education and Manpower Bureau is only eligible to apply for normal disability allowance, not the higher disability allowance available. The department said Mrs Lee's daughter was eligible for the high disability allowance when the family applied for the allowance in 1990. But she no longer qualified after her admission to the boarding school in 1992. The high disability allowance is $2,240 and the normal one is about $1,120.