Fewer than one in five councils have a dedicated appeals process for social care, according to new research.
Older people’s charity Independent Age found the only option for many people is to make a complaint – a process it describes as ‘slow and stressful’ and involving unfair costs.
Its report highlights that 60% of complaints about assessments and care planning were upheld by the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman in 2018/19, and 73% of complaints about charging were upheld.
The report found that where a complaints procedure is used, rather than a separate social care appeals process, people could be waiting as much as six months for their complaint to be resolved.
Independent Age is calling for a statutory appeals process for adult social care, including an independent reviewer, funded through central government.
The chief executive of Independent Age, Deborah Alsina, said: ‘The one in five councils who do have a process are actually going above and beyond what it expected of them. Although this is brilliant, there needs to be a statutory appeals process so that no matter where you live, the way to appeal a decision will be the same.
‘The Government has previously acknowledged the need for this and even consulted on it in 2015, but they never published a response and nothing has moved forward.’
Local Government Ombudsman Michael King added: ‘It’s essential for authorities to try to get things right at the local level before problems are escalated to us, so we welcome any moves to improve the way councils manage the assessment process for people in need of care.
‘Any change in approach should learn lessons from similar existing appeals systems and follow the principles of good administrative practice, that is: easy to use, easy to access and with clear guidance for all who use it.’