Internal auditors found there had been big failings in the council’s adult social care department which has seen £3.4m overpaid to providers and in some cases residential care homes have continued to be paid after a resident has died.
In a catalogue of errors the auditors found that in almost every aspect of the procedure, from assessment to management sign-off and invoicing, there were significant problems.
The authority was also not charging some people who had chosen to top up their package and receive a more expensive service. And even when it had overpaid residential care home providers it was not routinely invoicing providers to get the funds repaid.
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The audit looked at the period from April last year to November and gave the authority a limited assurance rating, which is the second worst possible rating.
A spokesman for Northamptonshire County Council said: “This internal audit was requested by the service director to ensure that the organisation has appropriate expenditure controls around independent care and was acting in a timely way to recover any money due.
“Since the audit, comprehensive improvements have been implemented which have strengthened controls within the service.
“The council has also taken steps to bill and recover £2.2m of the outstanding care contributions from either clients or third parties.
“There is a residual amount to recover of £400,000 from providers who are providing care to other clients and we are currently working through how we might offset that against future payments to avoid causing small providers cash flow or financial difficulty that will put them at risk.
“The council will however seek to recover the amount in full.”
The matter will be discussed by councillors at the audit committee meeting being held at County Hall on Thursday.
Sarah Ward, Local Democracy Reporting Service