A COUNCIL has launched an inquiry after being accused of failing a vulnerable elderly woman.

Durham County Council is carrying out an internal investigation following a complaint from the family of a 69-year-old woman with dementia.

It stems from a dispute with the pensioner’s domestic cleaner about the rate of pay she claimed for doing housework at her home in the Barnard Castle area of County Durham.

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The worker was accused of submitting bills for hours she never worked, which were paid by Durham County Council as the authority is responsible for the woman’s day to day care and finances.

The cleaner subsequently accepted a police caution and repaid £3,400, which was confirmed by Durham police.

The victim’s daughter said: “We feel distressed, upset that someone so vulnerable has welcomed this person into their trust and home and then was stolen from.

“We want other people and relatives of vulnerable people to be aware of what happened to us and take precaution.”

The family has accused the council of not keeping a proper check of the grandmother ’s outgoings and made an allegation of professional misconduct against a social worker.

The daughter said: “We’re pleased the council is investigating but we’ve got to make a lot of noise as the family of a vulnerable person to get the support and respect I feel my mother deserves from the institute that is meant to be in place to protect her.”

Geraldine Waugh, operations manager at the authority, said: “We cannot go into the details of any personal circumstances but would like to reassure the family that we are treating this as a matter of great concern and are currently carrying out a full investigation.”

The Northern Echo contacted the cleaner but she declined to comment.