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Invoice problems with Direct Payments

Discussion in 'Legal and financial issues' started by piph, Jan 14, 2016.

  1. piph

    piph Registered User

    Feb 4, 2013
    1,530
    Northamptonshire
    I must say I'm very disappointed in the Monitoring and Payments Team at my
    LA. They have always been very helpful and straight with me when I've had to contact them regarding their contributions to Mum's Direct Payments Account. Since informing them that we no longer had carers coming in as we had moved in to look after Mum ourselves, I sent all the documents to them for the final reconciling of the account, expecting them to work out the balance of their contributions remaining in the account, and to invoice me for that amount. However, this morning I received the following email:

    Thank you for your email below along with attachments which relate to Mrs ******* Direct Payment account.

    We have now reconciled the DP account and I can confirm that an invoice will be raised for the final balance in the sum of £2,064.95 as shown on the bank statement, and this will come to you under separate cover.

    Please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any queries regarding the above.



    I immediately phoned them. The lady I spoke to seemed to be expecting a call, as she seems not at all surprised to hear from me. I asked for an explanation as to why they wanted the balance of Mum's contributions as well as their own. The only reply she could give was that was what they always did! She said if I was unhappy, then to email her and she would raise a new invoice. They are trying to recover the whole of the balance, and not just their contributions. Cheeky b******s! This was my reply:

    Further to our telephone conversation, I am happy for you to recover the balance of the LA's contributions to the Direct Payments Account. However, I feel it would be grossly unfair for you to expect to also take the balance of Mum's contributions, which were in fact well over half of the regular 4 weekly total - £354-44 being Mum's 4 weekly contribution, as opposed to £207-16 being the NCC contribution.

    Please raise an invoice for the revised amount - I would also like to see details of how the revised amount is worked out.


    As she seemed quite prepared to raise a new invoice, then it seems to me that they were just trying it on! If she could just raise a new invoice without an official complaint being made then its obvious to me that they thought they'd get away with it. Hah, not so!

    I've just had a reply, which also suggests to me that she had all the correct figures to hand. They want just short of £762, which is much more like the figure I had estimated.

    Why do they do it? I suppose because there are some people out there who would just blindly pay it, thinking that it must be right! Shame on councils for trying to fleece vulnerable people!
     
  2. fizzie

    fizzie Registered User

    Jul 20, 2011
    2,739
    That is outrageous and you are right they are taking the whatever. There are many older vulnerable people who would be frightened into paying it. Can I suggest that you copy the correspondence to the Director of your LA as a formal complaint - it is the only way to get it noticed, progressed and save other people, some of whom would not have the knowledge or ability to deal with it, a lot of grief
    Well done for taking them on
     
  3. piph

    piph Registered User

    Feb 4, 2013
    1,530
    Northamptonshire
    Good idea - I'm trying to find out who the Chief Executive is and whether there is an email for him, but no luck so far.
     
  4. stanleypj

    stanleypj Registered User

    Dec 8, 2011
    10,658
    North West
    I agree with fizzie - 'outrageous' was my first reaction also. Well done for taking them on.

    I don't think though that we can conclude that all LAs behave like this.
     
  5. nitram

    nitram Registered User

    Apr 6, 2011
    19,035
    Male
    North Manchester
    #5 nitram, Jan 14, 2016
    Last edited: Jan 14, 2016
    "I'm trying to find out who the Chief Executive is and whether there is an email for him, but no luck so far."

    Try >>>HERE<<< scroll down, click on name to expand, beware old and new authority titles. The old will always say FOI.
    Also complain to local councillor.
     
  6. sleepless

    sleepless Registered User

    Feb 19, 2010
    3,232
    Female
    The Sweet North
    I'm sure you are quite right Stanley.
    In fact only the other day I heard the most glowing reports of an LA.
    Now where was it?
    Began with a U.....
    Uto......
    Utopia!

    Seriously, piph, it could have been a genuine mistake, but could also have been mistakenly paid, and it reflects badly on their system.
     
  7. piph

    piph Registered User

    Feb 4, 2013
    1,530
    Northamptonshire
     
  8. Katrine

    Katrine Registered User

    Jan 20, 2011
    2,850
    England
    I am sorry you've had that hassle, but am very grateful for the cautionary tale. I will bear it in mind for the future. When my mum dies I can imagine her executor, who is a not very efficient solicitor, just paying the invoice without questioning it.

    I have to watch my mum's care account bank balance very carefully as I reach the end of each accounting quarter. The closing balance must not exceed 8 weeks worth of Direct Payments. If it does, they are legally entitled (it's in the small print of the contract I signed) to demand repayment in full of the total amount in the account.

    2 years ago I accidentally exceeded the permitted balance and the LA demanded full repayment immediately. I pointed out, as you did, that my mum's contribution to the care account is far more than they pay in, so given that she spends £X thousands a quarter on care it is obvious that she is spending way more than the total of DP contributions received. You cannot have it back, it's her money, was my argument. Didn't get me anywhere. They graciously granted me one exemption but warned me that if it happened again I would be invoiced.

    I was told that it's to do with accounting to central government. If they allow people to build up large 'surplus' DP balances, then it shows that the LA is paying out more money than is actually needed and might have their funding cut. That was the story I was given, and it's probably true. Any excuse to cut local government funding........

    You situation is different and frankly it sounds scandalous. For managers in the Public sector to instruct staff to try and get away with demanding money that doesn't belong to them is .... well, what is it? Fraud is the only word I can think of. :eek: :(
     
  9. fizzie

    fizzie Registered User

    Jul 20, 2011
    2,739
    Yes as Nitram says local councillors are really really helpful in our area and like terriers - they won't let it go til they get the appropriate answers. The press is also handy but probably a bit extreme even for me in these circumstances-- although a letter to editor is the best way to warn people to look out for errors and needn't sound like a complaint. Oh boy would your council make sure it didn't happen again....i work for LA and faces pale at the thought of ~THE PRESS - horror of horrors
     
  10. Poppyfields

    Poppyfields Registered User

    Sep 12, 2013
    70
    I think you now need to demand an explanation in writing

    They know they have "made a mistake" (not) and they are hoping you will let it go - what worries me is how many elderly people pay without question -
     
  11. sleepless

    sleepless Registered User

    Feb 19, 2010
    3,232
    Female
    The Sweet North
    This is what worries me.
    In fact, when you think of how spouses and families provide so much protection from the negative aspects of modern life (as we can see on TP) I often wonder how those with no close family manage.
    If we complain on behalf of our loved one, we can perhaps also be helping those who are even more vulnerable.
     
  12. piph

    piph Registered User

    Feb 4, 2013
    1,530
    Northamptonshire
    I've made a formal complaint to the council - I'll let you know if anything comes of it.
     
  13. stanleypj

    stanleypj Registered User

    Dec 8, 2011
    10,658
    North West
    Glad to hear it. I hope this eventually gets a lot of publicity.
     
  14. piph

    piph Registered User

    Feb 4, 2013
    1,530
    Northamptonshire
    I doubt very much that it will get any publicity at all. I'm afraid that I'm not into going to the newspapers etc - not for this anyway. But hopefully the complaint will make them think again about trying it with anyone else. The stupid thing is that, when I asked why they wanted the whole of the balance that was left, she could have passed it off as a mistake quite easily (obviously it wasn't, but at the time I wasn't to know that), and avoided the complaint in the first place. Instead, saying that it 'was the way they always do it', was tantamount to telling me that they were trying it on! Unless of course it was her way of letting me know that. If the staff had been told to do it, but she didn't agree with it, she was perhaps trying to let me know in an obscure way! Anyway, I am at least on the ball enough to realise it was wrong from the outset, I pity the poor people who aren't.
     
  15. canary

    canary Registered User

    Feb 25, 2014
    10,536
    Female
    South coast
    Thats an interesting point
    She may, of course, just not be cleaver enough to cover it, but still. Let us know what response you get from LA. You can always go to the media if you dont get any satisfaction.
     
  16. piph

    piph Registered User

    Feb 4, 2013
    1,530
    Northamptonshire
    Just to let you all know that I've had a reply from the County Council to my complaint. They were very sorry that it happened, and thanked me for bringing it to their attention. They have now changed their procedures to ensure that it didn't happen again to anyone else!

    Yeah, right!!!!

    However, there's not a lot more I can say to that really, they have admitted their 'mistake', and rectified it, so all I can do is put it down to experience, and warn others to be extra vigilant when LAs ask for money back.

    Here endeth the lesson.;)
     

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