Ombudsman Cases March 2021

There have been 2 recent LGO Ombudsman cases which are useful reminders:

  1. This case reminds councils that people can spend their money as they wish [within reason] when paying for their own care. The ombudsman criticised Cornwall Council’s financial assessment process which treated the person as though they [Cornwall] were paying for the care and limited the man’s personal expenditure to the Personal Expenditure Allowance. This only applies when the council is paying for the care.

The council was also criticised for failing to disregard half of a person’s work pension when calculating how much they must contribute towards their care, if that pension is being used for supporting a spouse or civil partner.

In this case, the council also put too high a threshold on the proof it required to demonstrate the man was paying money to his wife. It said a joint account was not evidence of this, despite accepting that the wife was using the money for her maintenance. The council’s poor calculations meant that there was a delay in funding the man’s care when his capital fell below the government threshold of £23,250.

Here is the link to this decision:

https://www.lgo.org.uk/information-centre/news/2021/mar/cornwall-care-cost-calculations-criticised

  1. Ombudsman: Decision refunds costs where resident charged for short term residential care. Here the Ombudsman found Lincolnshire County Council had been charging a fixed fee for respite care without assessing whether people could afford it. This is not in line with statutory guidance which emphasises the principle that a charge should be affordable for the individual.

The policy, criticised by the Ombudsman, saw a different flat rate charged for the care based on people’s ages, but stated people could have a full financial assessment if they wished.

The council told the Ombudsman it had identified 4,387 respite users who later went on to receive full-time residential care. Of that number, nearly 3,000 had either paid the correct charge or had underpaid. However, the rest had overpaid by between £10 and £50 per episode of respite care.

Lincolnshire agreed to refund some of these people.

https://www.lgo.org.uk/information-centre/news/2021/mar/council-agrees-to-refund-care-costs-for-some-people-in-short-term-residential-care

(Author: Tish Hanifan)