Ombudsman warns councils not to cap personal care budgets

Councils has been warned by the Local Government and Social Ombudsman that they cannot set maximum budget levels when calculating the cost of people’s care.

The advice was issued 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, which is contrary to the Care Act.

The Ombudsman became aware of the practice after a woman, whose adult son had substantial and complex health problems and disabilities, had her support cut significantly.

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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.”

The council has agreed to repay the mother £747.5O for transport costs along with a further £500 for distress caused.

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