Care costs report highlights county councils’ responsibilities

The rights of relatives responsible for arranging care for the elderly have received a boost in a report by the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman (LG&SCO).

Tracy Ashby, senior associate solicitor, said the report found that Norfolk County Council’s handling of a son’s arrangements for his mother’s care had been seriously flawed.

“The report, issued at the end of March, found a number of errors and serves a reminder to all councils to ensure there are clear policies and procedures to help people select appropriate care homes and provide full information regarding the cost of care,” she said.

The case arose when the son complained that Norfolk County Council had failed to explain fully how his mother’s care home fees would be paid, failed to offer affordable care home options and incorrectly charged his mother top-up fees for the first 12 weeks of her care.

The report said: “The son further claimed that the council had assessed his mother’s capital to be above the £23,500 threshold, wrongly including the value of her house in this figure, which should have been disregarded for the first 12 weeks of care under the regulations.”

The LG&SCO upheld the complaint and recommended that the council paid the family £300 together with an apology for the distress caused.

It was recommended that the council should also conduct a full review of procedures and staff training relating to helping people understand the costs of care and helping them to find an affordable care home. The council’s policy on charging should also be reviewed to ensure it contains sufficient detail on top-up fees.

Tracy added: “While this was a report on failings by Norfolk County Council, the findings in the report apply equally to all county councils in England and Wales. The rules governing care are complex and if you have any doubts or trouble understanding the procedure, you are well advised to seek professional advice.”

Tracy, who is based in Thursfields’ Solihull office, has particular expertise in matters relating to care funding, safeguarding individuals and Court of Protection applications. She is also a full member of Solicitors for Elderly.

For further information and advice please contact Tracy Ashby on 0121 6475269 or email

Thursfields Wills & Estates team are available at any of our offices and surrounding areas – Birmingham, Worcester, Kidderminster, Solihull, and Halesowen.

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