Councils cannot set maximum budget levels when calculating the cost of people’s care, the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman has said.
The Ombudsman has issued the advice after an investigation found Wiltshire Council had a policy of placing people into bands, and paying in line with those banding levels, regardless of need. This is contrary to the Care Act.
The Ombudsman became aware of the council’s system after a woman, whose adult son had substantial and complex health problems and disabilities, had her support cut significantly.
The Ombudsman’s investigation found the council at fault for using an outdated matrix tool to calculate the amount of support offered to the family, and for reducing the support offered immediately, rather than as a staged reduction as the matrix tool said it should. It was also at fault for the way in which it reduced their funding for transport.
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.”