The case of a Bromley insulin dependent diabetic, who faces eviction after wrongly being charged a total of £51,000 for his council tax bill by outsourcing giant Liberata, will be heard at Croydon County Court on Tuesday 21 July.
Paul Rooney, who gave up work as a social work manager to look after his severely disabled daughter Roisin was given a stay of eviction, after bailiffs on Monday descended on the home he owns at 22 Yew Tree Road, Bromley BR3 8HT to take repossession. Roisin was due to celebrate her 15th birthday on Monday.
The bailiffs retreated after seeing about 30 community activists from Unite, the country’s largest union, and local residents in front of the house – Mr Rooney then applied to the court for a stay of eviction.
Liberata, which runs the council tax collection service on behalf of the controversial Tory-controlled Bromley council, claims that Paul Rooney allegedly owes just over £2,000 in council tax. Liberata, it is alleged, has also tacked on £49,000 in solicitors’ fees.
Paul Rooney said: "It is such a relief, I am very happy to get a hearing. I am still very worried, but the support I have had from local people and trade unions has been amazing, I can’t thank them enough.
"It was Roisin's 15th birthday on Monday, and we couldn't celebrate because of the bailiffs coming. We can now celebrate her birthday this weekend instead."
Unite’s London community co-ordinator Pilgrim Tucker said: “It is good news for Paul and Roisin that they have been given this breathing space and Unite will be helping them get the necessary legal support to make the strong case that they should not be evicted from their home.
“Paul gave up his job to care for Roisin, who has a brain tumour, a chromasome disorder and, as a result, physical and learning disabilities.
“The mistakes made by Liberata were in not processing his application for council tax benefit correctly and this resulted in the council tax not being paid on time – this is a saga of staggering incompetence by this private sector outsourcing giant.”
Bromley council is fully committed to becoming a commissioning council and reducing the number of council employees from 4,000 to 300 – despite having £130 million in reserves. The accelerating privatisation programme has been opposed by Unite’s council members who recently staged a fourth wave of strikes over the plans.
On its website Liberata claims to be “a business process innovation company that helps customers reinvent complex services, transactions and processing. Our strategy is simply to create value with our customers by building better services for theirs.”
Notes to editors:
For more information please contact Unite senior communications officer Shaun Noble in the Unite press office on 020 3371 2061 or 07768 693940.
- Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest trade union with over 1.4 million members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.