Council defends bankruptcy of suicidal man over £2k
THE decision to bankrupt a suicidal man over a £2,000 tax bill has been defended by Torbay Council.
Papers to the full council outline the reasons for going ahead with action despite bailiff concerns about the man's mental health.
Anthony Butler, monitoring officer, reports: "To have done otherwise would not have been fair to the other residents of Torbay."
This latest report comes after an ongoing wrangle between the authority and the Local Government Ombudsman. Dr Jane Martin has concluded the council acted wrongly in this case.
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She is sticking by her recommendation the authority should pay £25,000 compensation to the Shiphay resident, referred to as Mr Castle.
But the council has only offered to pay £1,000, insisting it has apologised for some failings but has still acted within the law.
The matter will go before full council on Wednesday, May 16. It is unknown whether members will agree to pay the recommended amount. In the report, Mr Butler says there was no evidence the resident 'lacked capacity' as under the Mental Capacity Act 2005.
He said: "It is believed the Ombudsman has failed to fully appreciate a person must be assumed to have capacity unless actually established that they lack capacity."
He says visits to the property 'raised levels of concern' but there was no evidence he lacked capacity.
The resident, who does not wish to be named, has said he indicated to a process server on one occasion that he could not afford to pay and on that basis, bankruptcy proceedings should not have been continued.
He said: "The point is the council must have known I could not afford to pay and should not have proceeded with the bankruptcy."
The original Ombudsman report upheld a complaint by the resident and found maladministration on the part of the council, resulting in injustice. The council is being recommended to note the latest Ombudsman report. They are being asked to agree chief executive Elizabeth Raikes responds to the Ombudsman in consultation with the mayor and group leaders.