AN independent investigator has found that the council left a woman in residential care for too long, which resulted in her paying too much for her care.

The Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman upheld a complaint against the council on January 25.

The complainant, named as Mrs X, complained that the council left her mother, named as Mrs Y, in residential care for too long, resulting in her paying too much for her care.

According to the Ombudsman, the time Mrs Y spent in the care home was because of Covid-19, not fault by the council. The council was therefore entitled to charge her for her care.

Mrs X signed an agreement to pay a third-party top-up for her mother’s placement and confirmed that she knew her mother’s money could not be used to pay the top-up – and there was no fault by the council over its handling of the top-up agreement.

However, the council decided any personal expenditure over the personal expenses allowance (currently £24.90 a week, plus a savings disregard of £5.75), was ‘deprivation of capital’.

But the personal expenses allowance only applies to people with capital below £23,250, who are being supported by a council.

And there was no basis for saying Mrs Y could not spend more than her personal expenses allowance. To do so and treat any personal expenditure over £32.65 a week as deprivation of capital was ‘fault’ by the Council.

The council invited Mrs X to provide evidence of what she spent her mother’s money on.

When Mrs X told the council they had spent some of her mother’s money on her home so they could rent it out, the council ‘dismissed this and said it amounted to deprivation of capital’.

It provided no explanation to support this claim or to explain why such expenditure was not reasonable and amounted to a deliberate deprivation of capital to avoid care charges.

Although Mrs Y was not expected to return to her home, there is nothing to prevent people from renting their home to increase their income, and had Mrs Y remained permanently in the care home, support in the form of a deferred payment agreement would have been available to enable her to do this.

The Ombudsman deemed that the council needs to reconsider Mrs Y’s financial assessment, including the motivation for any deprivation of capital and the extent to which she deprived herself of capital.

The Ombudsman recommended the council, within four weeks, writes to Mrs X apologising for its failings and pays her £250 for the ‘time and trouble’ it has put her through in pursuing the complaint, and within eight weeks, having first invited Mrs X to provide evidence of the money spent on Mrs Y’s home, reconsiders Mrs Y’s financial assessment, including the ‘motivation for any deprivation of capital’ and the ‘extent to which she deprived herself of capital’, and provides ‘clear reasons’ for its decision.

Furthermore, it recommended the council, within 12 weeks, takes action to ensure officers deal with decisions on deprivation of capital in line with the guidance.

The Ombudsman says the council has agreed to do this.

The Ombudsman has completed its investigation on the basis that the council’s faults ‘have caused injustice which needs to be remedied’.

The council has issued a statement.

A spokesman said: “We have liaised fully with the Ombudsman throughout their enquiry and we accept the findings of the report.

“We have already completed all of the actions the ombudsman recommended following their enquiry, and have put in place learning from this case with affected departments.

“We take all cases upheld by the Ombudsman seriously and take on board any recommendations.”