February 4, 2016

Concern that councils are disregarding Care Act requirements

A Freedom of Information request was recently sent to every local authority in England, amid concerns that some councils were ignoring rules brought in to protect families from an unfair financial burden.

It was subsequently discovered that almost half of the 122 councils which responded to the FoI request had failed to comply with at least one of the requirements of the Care Act 2015.

The legislation was brought in with the explicit aim of strengthening the rules which prevent local councils from charging for “top-up fees” for care which should, in actual fact, be free.

But the results of enquiries by the charity Independent Age found that far too many local authorities were disregarding the requirements because of growing pressure on their adult social care budgets.

Janet Morrison, the charity’s chief executive, said it was worrying how many councils were ignoring the basic principle that top-up fees should be “optional, affordable and transparent.”

“We understand that councils are under huge financial pressure,” she said. “But in a drive to find savings to social care budgets, they must not pass the burden of this ‘secret subsidy’ on to the families of poorer pensioners.

“It is only poorer pensioners who qualify for a local authority funded care home place, and yet it is their families that are being asked to make up the shortfall in care budgets.

“We hear all the time from families who are willing to do anything they can to ensure their elderly relatives get decent care, even if they’re struggling financially themselves. That’s why it’s so important that there are rules to make sure they do not feel pressured into paying fees unnecessarily.”

For legal advice on planning for care, please contact Tony Millson and Deanna Hurst in Royds’ Private Client team.

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