Suffolk social worker struck off for misconduct

Endeavour House, the headquarters of Suffolk County Council. Picture: CONTRIBUTED

Endeavour House, the headquarters of Suffolk County Council. Picture: CONTRIBUTED - Credit: Archant

An experienced Suffolk social worker who dishonestly obtained a “significant sum of money” at the taxpayers’ expense through false mileage claims has been struck off for misconduct.

Kerry Jane Barrett, whose registration states her location as Bury St Edmunds, was shown in an audit report to have effectively claimed twice for the same journey on 108 occasions, as well as making claims on days when she was absent from work.

Suffolk County Council, which employed Ms Barrett between 2009-16, said it was “exploring options” to recover more than £2,000 from her.

The Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) announced this week that it had ordered Ms Barrett to be struck off after failing to show remorse.

Although she did not attend the hearing, Ms Barrett has since sought legal advice and will be appealing the decision.

A panel heard the false claims continued over a “prolonged period” and Ms Barrett tried to blame others after the issue was raised. Concerns were first raised after Ms Barrett’s manager looked at her mileage claims.

He was said to be concerned “fraudulent claims” were being made and raised the matter with an investigating officer.

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Following that investigation, a disciplinary hearing was scheduled for June 2015. However this did not happen as Ms Barnett was on long term sick leave and then resigned. The council referred it to the HCPC.

The panel heard an audit report showed 11 occasions when Ms Barrett claimed mileage when she was recorded absent and 108 when she effectively claimed twice for the same journey. Members found the false claims would be “considered dishonest by the standards of reasonable and honest people”.

The hearing was presented evidence showing Ms Barrett initially refused to hand over her diaries when the issue of her claims was first raised. The panel found her submissions “full of prevarication and attempts to blame others for the situation she found herself in”.

Members were satisfied Ms Barrett realised what she was doing. Panel chairman William Nelson said: “The panel has seen no evidence of insight or remorse and, despite her admissions to some of the facts, Ms Barrett does not accept responsibility for her actions.”

Ms Barrett was not present at the hearing, but was represented by the British Association of Social Workers.

Ms Barrett was not present at the hearing, but was represented by Lily Robertson of the British Association of Social Workers.

A spokesman for the legal team Ms Barrett contacted after the hearing, said: “Ms. Barrett continues to deny the allegations and is appealing the HCPC’s findings.”