North Yorkshire County Council accepted the woman’s daughter was in “significant distress” when she realised the monthly bill had risen from £250 to £3,600 in December 2019 and the situation was “entirely avoidable”.
The council changed the way it assessed the woman’s finances, to decide how much her family should be charged, and decided it would take the value of a property she owns into account without informing her daughter.
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The woman, who has not been named, had moved into an assisted living facility in 2013 and her daughter moved into the property four years later, as she was struggling with severe mental health issues and claiming benefits because she was unable to work.
The council hiked the woman’s monthly care bill by more than £3,000
The council presented her daughter with a bill for more than £10,000, after she missed several monthly payments, and she was concerned she would be forced to sell the property and become homeless.
The Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman looked at the case, after the daughter lodged a complaint, and recommended the council should review the assessment of her mother’s finances and waive the bill.
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It said guidance in the Care Act 2014 states councils should disregard the value of a person’s home when carrying out a financial assessment if they no longer live in that property and the person who does is “incapacitated” because they claim sickness or disability benefits.
The ombudsman has also recommended the council should pay the woman’s daughter £500 for “the distress caused and her time and trouble in pursuing the matter”.
The council has agreed to the recommendations and apologised to the woman and her daughter.
The woman moved into a care home in September 2020, after her condition deteriorated, and her care is now funded by the NHS.