After the abuse of people with learning disabilities in an institution - Winterbourne View, as seen on Panorama, you'd think that institutional abuse would get more publicity. But the financial overcharging of 16 people with learning disabilities by Wirral Borough Council - for which the courts have insisted the council repay £250,000 for overcharging since 2000 (with more to come from earlier), barely gets a mention.
There is a small article tucked away on the BBC website but little mention elsewhere and practically no 'pick up' by organizations such as Mencap - yet. Yet the implications are potentially enormous. The bullying of, and attempted 'payoff' of the whistleblower (which he turned down) are indicative of one problem which I suggest is as prevalent in many NHS and probably many Social Services Depts.. What is also an issue is that Wirral has been 'found out' whilst similar practices may well be going on in many other authorities.
I'm not suggesting this was a malicious or mendacious abuse, (though the people who were given access to these people's bank accounts indicates desperately poor practice). Rather that it flags up what can happen when the priority is to get as much income in and pay out as little as possible by an authority with control over vulnerable peoples finances - and finance has a higher priority than service quality or vulnerable people's rights.
The current climate of cost cutting is a ripe environment for more of this sort of abuse to happen when the finance is more important than service. If Wirral is the only Borough doing this, I will be very surprised.