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latest update 12 February 2010

Friday, 24 July 2009

Two Wirral senior social services officers return to work after nine month suspension

Liverpool Daily Post - by Liam Murphy

TWO senior social services workers in Wirral are expected to return to work after being suspended for nine months.

It follows a four-day hearing and testimony from numerous witnesses over an Audit Commission report which accused the council department of failing to protect vulnerable people in care from "financial abuse".

But last night Conservative councillor Simon Mountney insisted there was "more evidence" of failing within the department and he would "not stop until it comes out".

The Audit Commission report last year was triggered by evidence from a "whistleblower" detailing persistent problems within the Department of Adult Social Services (DASS).

The Daily Post revealed last September how the Commission had concluded that some of the borough's most vulnerable people had been at risk of being overcharged since 1999.

One of the allegations raised was that a "special charging policy" was applied by Social Services in respect of supported living users with learning disabilities and this had not been approved by the council and was "excessive and unlawful".

Cllr Mountney said "I will not let this rest and will not stop until all the facts are out.

"As far as I'm aware, no money has been paid back.

"They [DASS] have admitted a few people have been overcharged - and I know more have been overcharged."

Cllr Mountney said he believed the extent of the overcharging was around half a million pounds.

However, Wirral Council said only a small number of people had been affected and safeguards were now in place to protect vulnerable residents.

Last night, a spokeswoman for the council said the findings of the disciplinary hearing remained confidential.

She said following the Audit Commission report "and the subsequent receipt by the Council of other information", two senior officers in the Department of Adult Social Services were suspended and there had been a four-day hearing before the Council's all-party Appeals Sub-Committee.

She said "The issues involved are highly complex and the Appeals Sub-Committee heard evidence froma large number of witnesses before reaching unanimous decisions on both cases."

© copyright Liverpool Daily Post. Reproduced under fair use for the dual purposes of comment and news reporting

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