Sheffield Council care blunder will take months to fix

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A council blunder which led to elderly people in Sheffield being overcharged for care visits is set to take until next March to sort out.

New data also reveals that the error, which dates from 2011, could have affected up to 800 people across the city, not 450 as first feared.

One grandmother was to be refunded £1,024 by Sheffield Council after her family discovered she was invoiced over two years for care visits of 20 or 30 minutes – when in reality carers sometimes stayed for a fraction of that time.

Linda Moss, daughter of the 80-year-old widow from Intake, put in a Freedom of Information request to the council to find out the true extent of the mistake.

The response said one member of staff had been employed to reconcile the accounts, and an IT solution to stop it happening again had been found with funding agreed.

It said: “It is still too early to accurately determine the exact number of residents affected.

“The maximum number of residents affected is 800.”

The response said the problem was caused by a change to the council’s ‘fairer contributions policy’ in October 2011.

It said the likely date for when accounts would be reconciled was Tuesday, March 31, 2015.

According to the council’s response, the total cost of refunding residents cannot yet be determined, but the authority is making preparations in its budget.

John Mothersole, council chief executive, also told Ms Moss that a third of reconciliations had been completed.

The council apologised in September for failing to match the accurate times given by care providers on carers’ timesheets to the charges then billed to residents.

It blamed it on a ‘system error’ at the time.

The authority said the problem was caused as it did not then have a system which could reconcile the payments to care providers with invoices sent to residents.