Business on brink of collapse because Brent Council refused to pay for services, woman claims

Lydia Banfield says the council have refused to explain why they won’t pay the �9k they owe

A small business owner claims her company has been pushed to the brink of collapse because Brent Council failed to pay the �94,000 it owes her.

Lydia Banfield runs Phoenix Care in Lilburn Walk, St Raphael’ Estate, Neasden, a company which worked with the children’s services department to provide support for youngsters in care.

But claims her company has been left a shell of its former self after she had to slash staff from 34 to just three because Brent Council refused to pay for work it had commissioned from her.

She said: “It has been God awful.

“I am a small business and I rely on being paid on time. The council have effectively crushed my business.”

The company, which was set up in 2008 and ran contact centres for children in care to see their family, had a good working relationship with Brent Council for its first 18 months, Lydia Banfield says.

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But she claims that all that changed in 2009..

She enlisted a solicitor, but despite the threat of legal action she claims the council has still refused to pay her back the full amount.

With her own personal debts mounting as a result, the single mum-of-three said she is facing financial ruin unless the council pays up.

She said: “I owe business rates and rent. All these things are mounting up. I have had the bailiffs turning up on my doorstep. It is just hell. Absolute hell.

“If you commission the work you must pay for it. How am I supposed to survive?”

Brent Council stopped commissioning services from Phoenix Care last year.

A council spokeswoman said: “Brent Council takes very seriously its responsibilities to make prompt payment for services delivered and promptly acts on any complaints received.

“We are aware of the issues raised by Phoenix CARE and have been working closely with them over a period of time to resolve things. Unfortunately the complexity of the issues has meant that this agreement has taken longer than we would have liked but we are committed to resolving matters as quickly as possible and are continuing to work closely with the company.”