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Council made overpayment nof £30,000

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By Mar
Council made overpayment nof £30,000

RED faced council chiefs will attempt to claw back a massive £30,000 overpayment made to a carer.

Monthly payments continued to be made to a kinship carer in the region for two years – despite the child no longer living with them.

Social workers never spotted the anomaly and it was only after an internal audit was carried out that it was discovered how much Dumfries and Galloway Council was out of pocket.

A report on the incident reads: “We note that a kinship carer continued to be paid when the child was no longer staying with them. “Management have agreed to check each scheduled payment run for accuracy before payment.

“The social worker responsible for each child should check each month that they are placed with the stated carer.”

The child had returned to a parent and then moved to another kinship carer.

Council officers are now recommending that extra checks are introduced to prevent similar costly mistakes occurring in future.

Steps will also be taken to try and recover the five-figure sum of money from the kinship carer.

The council report states: “A check will be done of all payments each month to ensure that they are correct. Processes will be reviewed to see if further control improvements may be made.”

The council’s payment system was described as having an acceptable level of control, but the audit highlighted there were still some “specific weaknesses”.

In 2022/23, the council spent £5.1 million in fostering (£2.8m), adoption (£156,000) and kinship (£2.2m) care payments.

Payments were made for the welfare of 485 children and young people in a typical month.

The payments process should have seen a social worker confirm whether or not the child was still with the kinship carer. The council’s fostering and adoption team then email their billing, order and payments colleagues when any changes are made.

The council audit report states: “Our council services rely on the accuracy and reliability of our council systems.

“We will learn any lessons from this particular case and apply them as appropriate to try and ensure this does not happen again.”