Council in £150,000 blunder over foster carers

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A CASH-strapped Yorkshire council paid £158,400 in allowances to two foster carers even though they no longer had the children concerned in their care, a damning report has revealed.

The overpayments made by Doncaster Council continued for more than three years in each case and have now been referred to the police.

A report by the authority’s internal audit described the payment controls as “totally deficient” and suffering “a number of critical and major weaknesses.” In total, more than £243,000 has been identified as being overpaid to a number of foster carers for children no longer in their care after checks on the last two years’ payments.

But the report also reveals it is likely more will be found if a recommended search back through earlier payments takes place.

The report suggests social workers’ lax attitudes towards payments contributed to the failure to implement proper financial controls.

The emergence of chaotic financial management comes as Doncaster Council is trying to implement widespread wage cuts as it struggles to make massive savings. Evidence of mismanagement in children’s services is also particularly sensitive.

This is because the authority was subject to government intervention following the deaths of seven children known to social services, and the notorious 2009 attack by two young brothers on two other young boys in Edlington.