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Council that used savings below the threshold for care fees repays complainant £14k

Trafford Council was at fault for delays in arranging funding for a man's residential care which led to him depleting his savings and racking up a large debt, an investigation by the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman has found.

The local authority has reinstated his savings up to £14,250. It has also agreed that a senior manager should investigate the failings and brief staff on the failings in the case.

The complainant, referred to as 'Mr B' by the investigation, suffers from dementia and lives in a residential care home.

He paid for his care until October 2020, when his savings were reduced to just above the threshold (£23,250), at which point people are entitled to help with the cost of care from their local council. His daughter then made an application to the council for care funding.

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However, his son-in-law, referred to as 'Mr C', said the council delayed in responding to the application.

According to Mr C, the council failed to allocate a social worker to the case until February 2021 and failed to make progress until May 2021.

He said that when he complained about the delay, the council accepted fault for the delay but still did nothing for a further six months.

By June 2021, Mr C said his father in law's money ran out, meaning he had been unable to pay his £5,800 monthly care fees.

The Ombudsman launched an investigation after Mr C complained to the watchdog in December 2021.

In the time that it took the Ombudsman to conduct its investigation, the council accepted fault for its delay in allocating a social worker to the case and for failing to communicate with the family during the period of delay properly.

In addition, the council sorted out the financial issue and reinstated his savings up to £14,250, which is the threshold below which someone should not have to use their savings to pay for their care.

Despite this, the Ombudsman found unremedied injustice to Mr C for the time he spent trying to persuade the council to sort things out. "It is also still unclear exactly why this issue went on for so long without the council making the necessary funding arrangements," the Ombudsman said.

In response to the Ombudsman's investigation, the council said it would refer the matter to a senior manager to investigate and establish what happened in Mr B's case. When the manager has reached their conclusions, they will brief all relevant staff on the lessons to be learned, it agreed.

The council also offered a payment of £250 to recognise the time Mr C took to deal with the complaint.

The Ombudsman accepted the council's planned remedies and added that it should also write to Mr C and explain the findings of its investigation when it is complete.

Trafford Council has been approached for a comment.

Adam Carey

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