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Thousands facing court over unpaid social care charges, says union

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Almost 100,000 people are facing debt collectors over unpaid social care charges, according to GMB.

New research by the union found that at least 130,000 people are trapped in social care debt, with more than 93,000 facing debt management proceedings as a result of their debt.

The findings, which were based on Freedom of Information requests to every local authority in Britain with responsibility for social care, also revealed that more than 1,700 people are facing legal action.

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The true figures are likely to be higher as some authorities didn’t respond, GMB said.

“Our care system isn’t just in crisis – it’s crumbling beneath our feet, said GMB national officer Rachel Harrison.

“Almost 100,000 people facing debt collectors over unpaid charges, almost 2,000 facing legal action – this is an increasingly desperate state of affairs

“Meanwhile care companies are going to the wall, councils are starved of cash and our under-staffed, underpaid and overworked members do their best against the rising tide of need.

“The way we fund our care system needs a radical overhaul – at the same time we need support, progression and pay structures to inspire new carers and retain outstanding staff.

“Instead of taking action, this Tory Government keeps kicking the Green Paper on social care into the long grass when they should be coming forward with a coherent plan to properly fund our care sector.”

Responding to the research, a Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson told Home Care Insight: “Local authorities have a duty to ensure people receive appropriate care and support. We have given local authorities access to up to £3.9 billion more dedicated funding for adult social care this year, and a further £410 million is available for adults and children’s services.

“We will set out our plans to reform the social care system at the earliest opportunity to ensure it is sustainable for the future.”

GMB, the union for care workers, has helped launch an All Party Parliamentary Group on Social Care (APPG Social Care) to look at the care system, funding and state of staffing in the sector.

The union also entered into an agreement with care provider HC-One last summer to launch Careforce, a dedicated campaign to look at professionalisation, skills and the prestige of the care sector.

Sarah Clarke

The author Sarah Clarke

1 Comment

  1. Two years ago, I took over my elderly neighbour’s financial affairs when he became unable to manage due to dementia. He’d been on a home care package for a long time and in a nursing home for several months. Because he was getting the full rate of DLA he had agreed a part-payment towards both these but it wasn’t being paid. The first I found out about this was a letter from the County Council’s legal department threatening court action.

    When I followed this up it turned out that all Social Services had done was let the debt mount up until it reached a certain point then passed it on for recovery action. They’d made no attempt to find out why the money wasn’t being paid or put in place any kind of payment arrangements to make sure it was paid in future.

    Worse, was the fact that this had happened twice before and gone to court. The whole thing was just a complete mess. In the end the latest debt had to be written off as unrecoverable but at least after I stepped in a social worker took my neighbour to the nearest branch of his building society and got him to complete a standing order to ensure the payments were made in future.

    I wonder how many other people are being caught like this?

    Incidentally, if you wonder where all the money was going – his ex-wife had got hold of his debit card and was spending it. No action could be taken against her because it was impossible to prove my neighbour hadn’t authorised her to withdraw the money.

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