The attempted eviction of a Bromley insulin dependent diabetic, who looks after his severely disabled daughter and was wrongly charged a total of £51,000 for his council tax bill by outsourcing giant Liberata, was branded as ‘ham-fisted and cruel’.
Unite, the country’s largest union, has rallied in defence of Paul Rooney, who gave up work as a social work manager to look after his 14-year-old daughter Roisin, as bailiffs today (Monday 13 July) descended on the home he owns at 22 Yew Tree Road, Bromley BR3 8HT to take repossession.
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.
Unite said that 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 – which the union said was ‘an astonishing cock-up and a catalogue of outrageous incompetence’.
About 30 community activists from Unite and local residents were at Yew Tree Road in a bid to stop the bailiffs from evicting Paul Rooney and Roisin, who has a brain tumour, a chromasome disorder and, as a result, physical and learning disabilities. He gave up work to care for his daughter.
Unite’s London community co-ordinator Pilgrim Tucker said: “This is a horrific case that is inhumane and proves that the outsourcing of council’s services to the private sector is a shambles and they should be brought back in house immediately.”
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.
Pilgrim Tucker said: “Bromley's notoriously bad outsourced council tax collection service has repeatedly messed up the processing of Paul’s council tax, and now his home is threatened with repossession today.
“Paul, a former Unite rep, gave up work to care for his daughter Roisin, who has a brain tumour and chromasome disorder, with consequent physical and learning disabilities.
“Liberata has presided over an astonishing cock-up and a catalogue of outrageous incompetence – it is shameful. It is ham-fisted and cruel.”
Unite regional officer Onay Kasab, who represents members at the council, said: “This appalling case just reinforces the case that Unite has repeatedly made that privatising council services has been a horrendous mistake.
“Our members at the council will continue to fight for the maintenance of decent in-house council services and the jettisoning of the deeply flawed privatisation agenda.”
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.