Brent Council cancels post-op carers for Dollis Hill woman on Universal Credit after wrongly asking her to pay for them

PUBLISHED: 10:52 30 August 2019 | UPDATED: 14:53 06 September 2019

Violet's ankle in plaster. Picture: Violet Kerr

Violet's ankle in plaster. Picture: Violet Kerr


A 58-year-old woman on Universal Credit was left to fend for herself following ankle surgery after Brent Council backtracked on a pledge to pay for her care.

A letter Violet Kerr was sent recognising that she should pay nothing for carers – but only after she’d been sent one two weeks earlier saying she should pay £45.40 a week.A letter Violet Kerr was sent recognising that she should pay nothing for carers – but only after she’d been sent one two weeks earlier saying she should pay £45.40 a week.

Violet Kerr, from Dollis Hill, was left to foot the £45.40 weekly bill for her post-surgery care, despite only living off £70 a month after bills and rent are deducted from her Universal Credit payment.

It meant she had to cope without carers for weeks, ending up in A&E with an infection, before a complaint to Brent Council finally saw them reinstated.

She told the Brent & Kilburn Times: "All the council saw was that I had £317 of my own money but really, I only had £70 after you took out £200 for rent, £30 for my phone bill, and £17 I pay for an advancement that I had to ask for because I could not wait for my Universal Credit to come through."

Violet, who'd an op on her left ankle, had been told the council would cover the cost of carers for the six weeks her leg remained in a cast.

So she was surprised when her social worker told her she would have to pay a "small amount" for care herself after she was discharged in August from the Royal Surrey County Hospital.

Her carers were removed after just a few days when it became apparent she could not pay.

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Violet, who suffers from type 2 diabetes and mental health issues, was left to fend for herself for nine days before an infection engulfed her ankle and upper calf, forcing her to visit A&E.

She said: "I had to walk around with a cast on my leg. The pain got so bad that I had to go without food. I ended up crying all the time."

Violet waited just under seven hours to see a doctor before she decided to leave, getting a cab driver to help her home.

She said: "I was so weak coming home that the taxi driver had to help me inside."

With her leg in increasing pain, only after she lodged another complaint to Brent Council's social services finance department did she manage to get her carers reinstated.

A Brent Council spokesperson said: "We are very sorry about the inconvenience Violet Kerr has faced.

"Due to the way information is shown on the DWP database, we believed that Violet's Universal Credit was paid weekly, not monthly, so our calculations for Violet's contribution reflected this. When we send notification letters to customers, we always ask them to contact us straight away if they believe any of the information we have for them is incorrect.

"As soon as we were made aware of our mistake we updated Violet's contribution amount."

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