County council must pay woman after billing her for care she never received

Uncertainty surrounds the future of Benjamin Court in Cromer. Picture: Ally McGilvray

Uncertainty surrounds the future of Benjamin Court in Cromer. Picture: Ally McGilvray - Credit: Archant

A woman who was charged more than £900 for care she never received has won her complaint against Norfolk County Council.

The woman, who has been kept anonymous, spent more than three years living in housing with social care in Cromer, during which time she stopped needing the care.

She moved into Benjamin Court during 2013, but by July 2016 her health improved to the point she felt she no longer needed the care.

However, she still received bills from the county council for the care provision for several months.

In February 2017, she was billed £949.91 for care provisions in the second half of 2016 - though she argued she refused to allow carers into her accommodation after July of that year.

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After the woman initially refused to pay the debt, the council threatened legal action against her if she did not comply.

Now a complaint to the Local Government Ombudsman has found in favour of the woman, recommending the council to write off any debt they claimed she owed.

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The council has also agreed to pay the woman - who the ombudsman refers to as Mrs X - £250 for stress caused by the ordeal.

The ombudsman said: 'I find fault with the council for incorrectly charging Mrs X for care she did not receive.

'Mrs X says she has suffered significant stress because of the council's threat of legal action if she did not pay the amount it said she owed.

'Mrs X was frightened of going to court, which is why she agreed to start making repayments, even though her complaint to the ombudsman was ongoing.'

The report added: 'Mrs X has been caused an injustice by the actions of the council and the council has agreed to take action to remedy that injustice.'

A spokesman for the county council said: 'We fully accept the recommendations of the ombudsman. We have compensated and apologised to Mrs X, and we now consider the matter resolved.'

Benjamin Court is one of 15 housing with care schemes run by the county council through NorseCare.

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