Ombudsman issues guidance on care finance decisions

The Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman has today issued guidance to councils on the often-complex issue of Deprivation of Capital decisions.

Based on lessons from the complaints it receives, the guidance is aimed at financial assessment practitioners in local authorities. It sets out the Ombudsman’s approach to investigating complaints from people whose local authority has decided they have intentionally deprived themselves of capital when assessing how much they should contribute to their care fees.

Deprivation of capital is when someone knowingly reduces their capital for financial benefit. When councils are carrying out financial assessments to work out how much people should pay for their care, they must sometimes make very nuanced decisions about whether someone has given away money, or deprived themselves of an asset, with the intention of avoiding charges for care.

Using casework examples, the guidance highlights the common issues seen in the complaints the Ombudsman receives. These include assuming all gifts are deprivation of capital, wrongly applying the Personal Expenses Allowance to people who fund their own care, and not keeping proper records of how decisions are reached.

Michael King, Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman said:

“With increasing pressures on council budgets, and a growing number of people in need of care in this country, we know that decisions about whether people have intentionally deprived themselves of capital can be a difficult – and for the families involved – emotive issue.

“The guidance we are issuing today sets out how we look at councils’ decisions, and the common areas we find fault where we have been asked to investigate.

“We hope that by publishing this guidance those practitioners involved in making such decisions can have some clarity about the steps they need to take to ensure the decisions they make are fair and equitable.”

Article date: 25 August 2022

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