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Council to refund care payments to 63 people after Ombudsman report

Solihull Metropolitan Borough Council has agreed to refund more than 60 older people if they are found to have been overcharged for care, following an investigation by the Local Government Ombudsman.

The LGO investigated the council after receiving a complaint that it had overcharged Mr and Mrs X for their care.

The complainant, Mr Y, argued that Solihull had wrongly taken into account both Mr and Mrs X’s capital before applying the capital savings limit of £23,250 when financially assessing Mr X to determine what contribution he should pay towards his home care charges.

Mr Y considered that the local authority’s approach was not in accordance with the Government’s Fairer Charging Guidance.

Solihull maintained that its policy was correct and it would only disregard the capital of one member of a couple if it could be proven they did not have legal right to a share.

According to the Ombudsman, the council said it had interpreted the regulations correctly but conceded its policy did not clearly state its interpretation of the regulations.

The council decided not to recover the man’s outstanding care charges and offered him £200 to acknowledge the time and trouble taken to resolve the matter.

In its report the LGO found fault with the way Solihull applied the capital limit, as it was contrary to the Government’s Fairer Charging Guidance at the time.

The council has since changed its policy to take into account new measures set out in the Care Act 2014, the Ombudsman said.

The LGO investigation discovered that there were a further 63 people in the borough who might have been similarly affected. Solihull has agreed to ensure any overpayments will be returned to them.

Dr Jane Martin, Local Government Ombudsman, said: “We always consider whether action should be taken to help the council avoid similar problems affecting others in the future. However, when our investigation uncovers other people who may have already suffered as a result of the faults found, we can ask councils to review those cases too.

“I am pleased Solihull council has accepted my recommendations, and has already identified and acted upon the changes it needed to make in light of the new Care Act.”

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