Wirral Council overcharging the vulnerable and shooting the messenger
Wirral Council, a Labour/Lib Dem coalition led by Cllr Steve Foulkes, a Labour councillor. They seem to adopt the same approach as Haringey towards whistle blowers who expose failings in caring for vulnerable residents.
Martin Morton, a council officer in Wirral, found that the Council was massively overcharging vulnerable residents, most of whom could not read or write. But rather than sort out the problem the Council tried to shut him up.
Private Eye's Rotten Boroughs column includes an item on it in their current issue:
A 10-year campaign by a whistleblower who uncovered serious overcharging of vulnerable people by Wirral Council's adult social services has ended with the authority admitting it should repay almost £250,000 in excess charges.
Sixteen people were found to have been overcharged up to £100 a week by social services under the supported living scheme, in which people are helped to live in their own homes.
The item concludes:
And has Morton received a herogram - or at least an apology? ot exactly. For continuing to insist on exposing the truth he was, he claims, bullied, driven out of his job and at one point hospitalised with stress. In 2008 he received a payoff of £45,000 and was asked to sign a gagging clause. Happily, he has chosen to ignore it.
Indeed he has. In an article for the Wirral Globe, he says:
The paragraph on the Globe website, which had me heading for the beta-blockers, read: "Cllr Foulkes said the affair had proved that anyone within the council with a complaint - 'or a whistleblower, as the term has been used in this case' - would have their grievances properly investigated and acted upon."
This reinforced the experience repeated over the last few years of living in a parallel universe where wrong is right, bad is good and lies are truth.
Had I not taken my serious concerns to the Audit Commission this matter would have been buried as deep as nuclear waste - proof positive of the catastrophic failure of Wirral Council to address my
I chose to "go public" only because I witnessed lies, denials, and attempts at a smokescreen at several Audit and Risk Management Committee meetings.
What is particularly significant about Mr Morton's comments is his analysis that the culture on Wirral Council has not really changed. The problem is still there. Consequences for wrong doing "are still missing as the reinstatement of two officers implicated in the cover-up proves."
Mr Morton concludes:
The dangerous message Wirral Council gives the staff is this: "Play the game and no matter how incompetent you are we will reward you. Whistleblow about abuse - and we will destroy you.”