Redbridge pensioner left distressed after care package blunder

A disabled pensioner was left "very distressed" after receiving a letter telling her she had to pay

A disabled pensioner was left "very distressed" after receiving a letter telling her she had to pay thousands of pounds to receive her care package - Credit: PA Wire/Press Association Images

A disabled pensioner was left “very distressed” after receiving a letter from the council mistakenly saying she had to pay thousands of pounds or see her care suspended.

Wheelchair-bound Tina, 63, of Redbridge, suffers from advanced multiple sclerosis (MS) and pays a regular contribution towards a care package.

But last week, a letter from Redbridge Council informed her she was due to pay £3662.96 if she wanted to continue to receive weekly help.

The blunder occurred as errors slipped in some of the records of residents, who previously used the payroll service Human Management Assistance (HMA) before the company went into voluntary liquidation in December.

The council said these errors had appeared in information provided by HMA, but have now been rectified.

Tina’s daughter and full-time carer Alison, also a mum-of-one, said she was “mortified” on receiving the letter as she always ensured her mum’s care was paid on time.

“I was fuming,” she said. “Then suddenly we got a letter saying we didn’t owe the money – this without the council seeing any paperwork.

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“My mum was so distressed, she was in a terrible state.

“What if vulnerable 80 and 90-years-olds receive a letter telling them they have to pay thousands of pounds. Some of them would have absolutely no idea what to do,” she said.

A second letter arrived at Tina’s home apologising for “the distress the letter may have caused” and added the “misunderstanding” had been cleared.

In its letter of apology, the council admitted there was no record of the reconciliation submitted by HMA.

“I know for a matter of fact how much money we have spent. Why does the council not have a record of that on their system?” asked Alison.

A council spokeswoman said 600 letters were sent to HMA service users informing them the company had ceased its operation.

“As there were around 600 service users whose direct payments were managed through HMA, the winding up was complex and there were a very small number of errors in some of the records,” she said.