Agenda and minutes
Venue: Committee Room 1 - Wallasey Town Hall. View directions
Contact: Mark Delap Senior Committee Officer
Declarations of Interest
Members are asked to consider whether they have personal or prejudicial interests in connection with any item(s) on this agenda and, if so, to declare them and state what they are.
Members were asked to consider whether they had personal or prejudicial interests in connection with any item(s) on this agenda and, if so, to declare them and state what they were.
No such declarations were made.
Further to minute 20 (29 June 2009) and specifically to minute 20 (30 September 2008), the Director of Law, HR and Asset Management presented the report of the Chief Internal Auditor in relation to an investigation of matters raised by a whistleblower with the Audit Commission under the Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998 (‘PIDA’). He reported that with his agreement, the whistleblower could now be named and would be referred to as Mr M Morton. He indicated that the investigation undertaken by internal audit focused upon whether a charging policy had been in place dating back to 1997 and, if so, whether or not it had been approved by members.
He outlined the issues that led to the investigation, which focused on former residents of Esher House Residential Care Home who had been transferred on its closure in 1997 to three Housing Association owned Supported Living Units in Bermuda Road, Curlew Way and Edgehill Road in Moreton. The provision of care and support clearly had a cost implication for the Council and prior to the closure of Esher House, its residents were charged by the Council in line with the Department of Health’s Guidance ‘Charging for Residential Accommodation Guidelines’ (‘CRAG’). However, between 1997 and 2006, those residents were still charged for the care and support provided by Wirral Council staff, in line with a new charging policy developed by Wirral Council. It was that charging policy that Mr Morton had described as a ‘Special Charging Policy’ and which had also been referred to as a ‘Modified CRAG’.
The Director commented that before Mr Morton brought the matters to the attention of the Audit Commission, they were raised within the Council under the Authority’s Grievance Procedure. The concerns raised in the grievance were that –
· A Special Charging Policy was levied at Bermuda Road, Curlew Way and Edgehill Road between 1997 and 2006.
· The Special Charging Policy was not approved by Members and was thus unlawful.
· Those charges were also excessive.
· The Council lost large sums of money due to a failure to assess service users at other Supported Living Units across Wirral prior to 2006.
· The Council delayed unreasonably in implementing Fairer Charging for service users at Supported Living Units and this had an adverse financial consequence for the service users at Bermuda Road, Curlew Way and Edgehill Road.
· The Council should reimburse the service users at Bermuda Road, Curlew Way and Edgehill Road for monies that were ‘unlawfully levied over a prolonged period of time’.
With the agreement of the Chair, Mr Morton addressed the Committee. He expressed concern in relation to some of the findings of the audit, in particular that the policy approved in 1997 was reasonable and thus lawful. Mr Morton pointed out that it had been implemented without consultation and reported that this had resulted in hardship for at least one tenant with learning disabilities who had to seek assistance from the Welfare Fund to purchase clothing. Mr Morton ... view the full minutes text for item 23.