Southern Trust apologises after overcharging adults with learning disabilities for utility bills

​Sinn Féin MLA Liz Kimmins has said it is ‘deeply concerning’ that the Southern Health and Social Care Trust were found to be overcharging adults with learning disabilities for utility bills.

It is understood around 85 residents at all eight facilities across the Trust area, including Ardaveen in Bessbrook, Glanree in Newry, Shanlieve in Kilkeel and Teach Sona in Mullaghbawn were affected.

The practice of charging residents for all bills was branded “potential financial abuse” by the RQIA, according to The Detail.

​The party's social care spokesperson said: “It is deeply concerning to learn the Trust has been overcharging adults with learning disabilities for utility bills.

“Those in supported living settings can be some of the most vulnerable people in our communities, and I will be writing to the Department of Health to determine if there have been similar issues in any other Trust areas.

"The Trust must ensure those service users impacted are reimbursed as quickly as possible and that this is never allowed to happen again.”

A spokesperson for the Trust said they had “engaged with service-users and their families as well as with RQIA and Independent Advocacy Services in relation to tenant contributions toward utility bills in Trust managed supported living facilities”.

They added: "A more suitable process for charging service users has now been implemented. The process to reimburse service users for overpayment of utility bills is ongoing. We apologise for any distress this may have caused to the tenants and their families.”

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