Councils not able to cap personal care budgets

The Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman has said that councils cannot set maximum budget levels when calculating the cost of people’s care.

Having become aware of a situation whereby Wiltshire Council ran a policy of placing people into bands, and paying in line with those banding levels, regardless of need, the Ombudsman found the council at fault for use of an outdated matrix tool to calculate the amount of support offered to the family, and then for reducing the immediate support offered.

With actions found contrary to the Care Act, the council has agreed to restore the previous level of respite care, pending a re-assessment compliant with the Care Act 2014. It has also announced that it will repay the mother the £747.50 she paid the council for transport, and pay a further £500 in recognition of her distress and time and trouble.

Michael King, Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman, said: “Councils cannot put a cap on people’s budgets: the Care Act says eligible needs must be met, regardless of the cost. The reduction in support, and the haste by which those changes were introduced, has had a significant impact on the mother.

“Having to care for both her husband and her son has left this woman exhausted. She said she has been treated by her doctor and reported being frequently distressed, tearful and unsettled by the changes. I am pleased the council has accepted the formula it used to calculate people’s budgets was not in accordance with current guidance and has now agreed to stop using it.”

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