Council to claw back surplus money from care-at-home service users

Moray Council found more than £45,000 had not been spent by service users who arrange their own care packages.

Moray Council to claw back surplus money from care-at-home service users iStock

Moray Council plans to claim back a “significant” amount of money from a number of service users who arrange their own care-at-home packages.

An audit into the financial monitoring of self-directed support payments found a total of £45,587 was sitting in eight service users’ accounts that should have been given back to the local authority after not being spent.

Surpluses ranged from £618 to £13,285, with claimants only allowed to accumulate three months’ worth of payments.

Service users should also tell the council if too much money builds up.

From a sample of 15 random care packages investigated, 13 accounts had not been the subject of a financial review, with six overdue by more than 12 months and one by more than two years.

Reviews should be carried out by Health and Social Care Moray.

The aim of self-directed support is to allow people to take control over the care provision they need to help them live independently.

In Moray, 150 adult service users receive payments to arrange their own care support at a cost of around £3m a year.

All self-directed support accounts will now be reviewed, and action will be taken to recover any excess funds.

The issue was brought before the audit and scrutiny committee on Wednesday.

Audit and risk manager Dafydd Lewis said: “It has been a particularly challenging period for the service, but it did not review care packages in light of agreed timescales.

“The review will result in significant funds coming back to the council.

“The pandemic is having an impact. Families have been caring for family members and service users have not been using the full package.”

Independent councillor for Forres, George Alexander, raised concerns that service users might be struggling to find the right care provision for their needs, resulting in funds not being spent.

He said: “I understand that the pandemic must have been a problem.

“I just wonder if we can justify service users keeping some of that money.”

Work is under way to make improvements following the audit including preparing a programme to work through the backlog of outstanding reviews, and sending reminders to service users not to allow payments to build up.

An annual financial review will be carried out on all self-directed support accounts, and support plans will be assessed on a yearly basis to make sure service users are getting the right care package.

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