Bradford Council error leaves Thornbury pensioner in debt

“What if I couldn’t pay my carers and they didn’t come?

9:20am Monday 27th February 2012 in Bradford

 Joanne Goodship

A bedridden pensioner has been sliding into debt and unable to pay her essential carers because a clerical error by Bradford Council left her bank account empty.

Care company Bluebird Agency, supporting Joanne Goodship, 78, of Thornbury, Bradford, has been footing the bill for her care because of the problems which have left her £4,000 in arrears.

Mrs Goodship, who is an invalid and suffers severe arthritis and bedsores, said the experience had made her even more ill.

“I have had many sleepless nights about this,” she said. “I can’t get in my wheelchair myself, I have to be washed and dressed and am totally invalid, so you can imagine how I felt about this.

“What if I couldn’t pay my carers and they didn’t come? I felt like the Council blamed me for stealing the money and I have never done anything wrong in my life.”

Problems started last September when Mrs Goodship became unhappy with her carers. Her social workers came up with a solution where she could choose her own carers and pay for them with funds provided by Bradford Council.

The Council agreed to put the money into a designated Yorkshire Bank account with Mrs Goodship writing cheques to the carers, hence leaving an audit trail. But the cheques started being rejected in December and when Mrs Goodship’s daughter raised it with the Council, she was told they were paying cash into her mother’s account, but at the Halifax.

Mrs Goodship’s daughter, who is herself recovering from a heart attack, said she kept insisting her mother did not have an account with the Halifax, even putting her into a wheelchair and taking her to the bank in the snow and freezing temperatures to double check with the Halifax such an account did not exist.

It was only last week that the Council realised it was paying the cash meant for Mrs Goodship into the wrong account and promised to pay it back.

But every rejected cheque has cost Mrs Goodship charges.

Her daughter said: “I think because my mother is an elderly lady, they think she is a nobody and not worth a phone call and this is upsetting me more than anything.

“She told me “I might as well not be here, because I am not worth anything to anybody and do not give anything to society”.”

A Council spokesman said the authority had apologised to Mrs Goodship’s daughter for the error and had arranged payment for the outstanding wages and invoices to be made.

“Future payments will be made to the correct account,” the spokesman added. “We have never sought to suggest the errors were the fault of Mrs Goodship or her daughter and are pleased to have been able to resolve the issue.”

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