Ombudsman Forces Council to Refund 11 Years Care Fees

which family paid in error

Birmingham City Council will repay a city family more than 11 years of care home fees after the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman found the family should never have been charged.

The Ombudsman was asked to step in after the family complained to the council that they were asked to pay a so-called ‘top-up’ fee for their mother’s care after she was moved to a care home in March 2011.

The council could provide no evidence it had offered the family a care home which did not require them to pay the top-up, in accordance with the Care Act. It was not until 2019 that the family discovered this should have been the case after which they made their complaint to the council.

Michael King, Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman, said:

“The Care Act 2014 has been clear on the matter, and we issued a special report about top-up fees as early as 2015, so the council has no reason not to be aware of its obligations here.

“The recommendations I have made will remedy the situation for the family, and also improve procedures to help avoid something similar happening again.”

The Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman remedies injustice and shares learning from investigations to help improve public, and adult social care, services. In this case the council should apologise to the family and pay them £250 to recognise the distress and time and trouble they have experienced.

It should also refund the top-up fees they have paid since March 2011.

The Ombudsman has the power to make recommendations to improve processes for the wider public. In this case the council should remind staff of the importance of keeping clear records. It should also remind staff of the need to correctly consider and apply the relevant procedures when responding to complaints.

Article date: 20 October 2022