Homes 'pay social workers bounty'

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The Independent Online
Two private homes for mentally handicapped adults are offering to pay a bounty of up pounds 1,000 a head to "agents" to find residents to fill their empty beds, writes Roger Dobson.

The proprietor of the Gloucestershire homes, which can charge pounds 500 a week, has placed advertisements offering commission. And she claims social workers regularly take such payments

Social services chiefs yesterday reacted swiftly to the advertisements and Sir Herbert Laming, who heads the inspectorate which oversees homes throughout the country, said an immediate investigation was being launched by Gloucestershire Social Services.

"Before a person with learning disabilities is placed in care there should be a full assessment of their needs. We want to be sure that the residents in these two homes are being properly looked after and protected," he said.

Earlier, Padmini Nigganga, who operates the two homes in Cinderford, had stood by her advertisement, which reads: "Well connected freelance agent required to find and introduce residents for two care homes for those with learning difficulties. Up to pounds 1,000 commission paid per successful introduction."

Mrs Nigganga has told callers that social workers regularly take such payments.

Mencap said yesterday it was "extremely concerned at the offer of commission" while the British Association of Social Workers said: "Any placement should be on meeting service users' needs, not whether they get a cash handout for making referral. It is contrary to everything that social workers stand for."

Bounty to fill beds, page 4