Hundreds of elderly people overcharged for care visits in a Sheffield Council blunder are still waiting to be repaid – almost a year after the error was revealed.
And one OAP affected by the failure – where people were invoiced for 20 or 30-minute care visits when carers had sometimes stayed for a fraction of that time – has died while waiting for a refund.
Linda Moss, who uncovered the error after her 81-year-old mum from Intake was overcharged, said: “It’s appalling it has taken so long and it seems to me to sum up the Sheffield Council’s attitude that this is not important – that these people are old so it doesn’t matter.
“People will have gone without other things so they could pay for their care, elderly people worry about money, and now some of them could die while waiting for a refund.
The council apologised for the blunder, where it had failed to match accurate times given by care providers to charges billed to residents, last September.
It said it had put new procedures in place while a different IT system was being developed to resolve the problem. which was caused because the authority did not have a system which could reconcile the two payments.
Linda said she was told all those affected should be repaid by the end of June 2015, but that deadline has been missed.
There are still 208 people waiting for payments to be processed, while another 273 are to be checked to see if they need one, and 312 people have been refunded.
Linda, who first raised concerns in August 2013, said: “The council has let people down.”
Linda has been told ‘further technical issues’ with the new system has delayed completion of the project, but it should be in use from next month to prevent anybody else from being overcharged.
Council staff are now writing to the most recent contact details or the families of 58 people who are ‘no longer active clients or who have died’ who are owed a total of £43,295.
The council said one person has died while waiting for a refund and they were owed less than £10.
Linda has been told six staff are working on the project, which is expected to cost the council £400,000 in total, while refunds for people which the council has contact details for should be completed by mid August.
However the council said yesterday refunds plus checks will be completed by the end of July, while it is in the ‘final stages’ of implementing the new system.
Additional compensation will not be paid.
Coun Mary Lea, cabinet member for health, care and independent living, said: “I am sorry it has taken a long time to refund some of the people affected.
“It is true to say we always knew this would take some time, as we have had to make detailed checks on hundreds of records dating back years.
“A number of people have received quick refunds, but clearly this has gone on for too long for others and this is not acceptable.
“We take our responsibility seriously and will rectify this as quickly as possible, as well as putting all possible measures in place to make sure this doesn’t happen again.”