Council takes disabled Northampton woman to court to get back £8,000 it overpaid her... 10 years ago

A disabled woman from Northampton is being underfunded by County Hall to the tune of £160 a week.

Thursday, 1st December 2016, 5:40 pm
Updated Tuesday, 6th December 2016, 4:27 pm
Roxanne with the County Council's legal letter demanding 8,000
Roxanne with the County Council's legal letter demanding 8,000

But the funds she has been forced to dip into are now being seized by the same council.

Roxanne Homayoun, who lives in Guildhall Road, has for years received Direct Payments from Northamptonshire County Council to pay for four carers.

In 2006, while at university, not all the money was being used up because her mum would look after her during the holidays, which led to a surplus of thousands accruing.

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Now Roxanne has been sent a legal letter from County Hall threatening to take her to court or start bankruptcy proceedings against her.

She said: "I find it upsetting that they are trying to make me personally liable for their refusal to pay Direct Payments properly.

"I've been trying to get into dialogue but I'm really frustrated that they won't engage with me.

"I don't know why, after all this time, they've sent the demand now."

What makes Roxanne's situation worse is the fact she now needs the overpaid surplus money to pay for shortfalls in the council's Direct Payments, which are now less than she has to fork out for carers.

County Hall each week gives her the equivalent of £1493.42 to pay carers but, by minimum wage laws, she has to pay them £1661.52.

She said: "I've had to dip into the surplus they are demanding back to make up the difference.

"If I could find the funds and pay it back - and I don't have it all now - I wouldn't be able to afford my carers."

By the council's Direct Payment calculations, Roxanne's carers would be earning the equivalent of only £6.89 an hour, which would be illegal - and Roxanne, as their 'boss', would be responsible.

One of her carers, Maja Marciniak, said: "We do everything we can to make Roxanne happy but it is a demanding job.

"She wants to pay us more but, she cannot. As a profession, our money will never go up, no matter what minimum wage increases the Government announces."

Northamptonshire County Council has been approached for a comment.