Council Asked to Apologise After Decision About Deliberately Avoiding Care Fees

The Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman (the Ombudsman) has asked South Gloucestershire Council (the Council) to apologise to a couple after deciding they intentionally deprived themselves of capital to reduce care fees.

If you require care, your local council undertakes a financial assessment of your capital, which includes your savings and property, and is required to cover your full care fees if this is less than £14,250. The council contributes towards your care fees unless you have more than £23,250.

In certain circumstances, such as the making of gifts, the council may decide you have intentionally deprived yourself of capital to reduce the amount of care fees you will have to pay.

In this case, the couple gave money to three out of their four children some time ago to help with their property purchases. The fourth child did not require financial assistance at the time.

The husband has Parkinson’s disease and dementia and previously lived with his wife in their family home. He moved into a nursing home at the same time as the couple gave money to their fourth child to buy a house. The Council’s financial assessment included this money and the couple had to pay the full care fees which they could not afford.

The Ombudsman found the Council had not considered all of the circumstances and did not provide reasons for deciding the couple had intentionally deprived themselves of capital. It also failed to undertake a financial assessment in line with the Care Act 2014. The Ombudsman ordered the Council to review its decision, apologise, and pay £250 to the wife to recognise her distress.