Care fee bungle leads to court fear for Sefton pensioners

More than 50 vulnerable pensioners were threatened with legal action by Sefton Council to pay for care transport charges for as little as £3 within the past 12 months.

Some of the pensioners claim they have never been in debt and were left feeling frightened, shamed and even suicidal when they received letters demanding they pay up within weeks – or face legal action.

Those who use the council’s care system across Sefton, owed payments ranging from £3 to £16 after a confusion regarding transport costs.

Last week The Southport Champion revealed how a brain-damaged pensioner who was distraught after receiving a letter through the post from Sefton Council demanding he pay up £13 within two weeks or face legal action.

A former legal debt advisor turned Sefton councillor explained that the reason for the ‘heavy handed’ warnings is that the council uses an automated computer system.

Councillor Robert Brennan, Labour spokesperson for Health & Social Care, said he personally got involved after around 50 worried pensioners contacted him after receiving the letters.

He said: “It is right that these matters are brought to the public domain and for people to be aware.

“Most of these people have spent their lives avoiding being in debt so it is wholly unacceptable that the council should use such heavy-handed tactics as this.

“Vulnerable pensioners told me they were shocked, frightened, ashamed and even suicidal because of the letters.

“They didn’t want to tell their families and were frightened of appearing before the magistrates or having their names mentioned in their local newspaper.

“I was told they received the letters because of an automated computer system but I think the finance department should contact these people individually no matter what the cost to the taxpayer is.”

A spokesman for Sefton Council said: “We will take Councillor Brennan’s comments on board and discuss them directly with him.”