Council care calculations called into question

North Yorkshire Council has been told to re-calculate how much a woman should pay for her care after the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman found issues with its predecessor’s sums.

The family of a woman, who sold her house when she moved into a care home, complained the former county council had wrongly taken into account money the woman had given relatives as gifts when calculating how much she should contribute to her costs.

The council was satisfied the money – totalling nearly £20,000 – was not given away to avoid paying more for her care home fees. This should have meant the council disregarded it when calculating how much she would have to pay. However, it did not do this, and the woman contributed towards the cost of her care for longer than she potentially should have done, and was left with outstanding care home fees she could not pay.

Paul Najsarek, Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman, said:

“The family said the woman’s sole reason for gifting the money was to help her children and grandchildren, and be able to see it while she was still alive.

“They told the council she had paid about 90% of her money towards her care home fees, and she had had no intention of avoiding paying her fair share, but the council still included this gifted money in its sums.

“During our investigation we found four other people have been potentially affected by the same issues, so I am pleased the council has accepted my recommendations to remedy this for both the woman whose family has complained and those others.”

The Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman remedies injustice and shares learning from investigations to help improve public, and adult social care, services. In this case the Ombudsman has asked the council to complete a new financial assessment to calculate what her contribution should have been from the point her money fell below the capital limit for paying for care. It should also reimburse any overpayments the new assessment shows she has made and pay any outstanding fees it is responsible for.

The Ombudsman has the power to make recommendations to improve processes for the wider public. In this case the council should review the financial assessments for the other people affected and make appropriate reimbursements to them where appropriate. It will also undertake a thorough review of its approach to deprivation of assets, gifting and notional capital to ensure its approach is in line with national guidance in future.

The Ombudsman’s findings were made against the former council, however the new unitary authority will carry out the recommendations.

Article date: 02 November 2023

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