William Eichler 15 July 2021

Council criticised for increasing care admin costs 200%

Council criticised for increasing care admin costs 200% image

The London Borough of Bexley has agreed to revise its social care charging policy after the administration costs for one resident’s care increased 200%.

The man complained to the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman after the council increased the amount it charged him in administration costs for it to manage his mother’s domiciliary care package.

The man had been paying a flat fee of £260 per year to the council for arranging and administering the care, but the council changed the way it charged for this service and charged everyone 6.1% of a person’s care and support package. This led to the man now having to pay £793 per year.

The man complained and after a delay the council eventually agreed that those with larger packages were paying too much – and more than the actual costs the council incurred.

The London Borough of Bexley has since proposed a new policy based on a banded system. However, Ombudsman Michael King said there was still uncertainty about whether the new policy will ensure people are not over charged.

‘The blanket charge brought in by the council is not in line with statutory guidance and has meant some people in the Bexley area are paying over the odds, and more than the costs incurred by the council,’ he said.

‘The council now needs to put in place a system that is fair to all and ensure the new charging policy is in line with Government guidance.’

Mr King said the council should apologise to the man and pay him £150 for the time and trouble in making the complaint.

Chief executive of the council, Jackie Belton, said: 'We have apologised to the two people involved in the complaint. We accept and will act on all the Ombudsman’s recommendations.

'At the time we received the complaint we believed that our charging policy was fair. Following the complaint by Mr C we had started to review the policy. That work was unfortunately delayed during the pandemic.

'Taking account of the Ombudsman’s views and a recent court case involving another local authority, we accept that this review must be brought forward quickly. We are reviewing the report alongside the court judgement. We have arranged for the council’s cabinet to consider a report on the charging policy at its meeting on 26 July, when it will be asked to approve a 12-week public consultation on a new charging policy.

'The results of the consultation will be reported to the cabinet before the end of the year, when it will be asked to approve a new charging policy that can be seen to be fair. We will ensure that changes to our charges are applied retrospectively for any people who are in the same position to the complainants.'

Keeping the safety net image

Keeping the safety net

Local authority leadership is invaluable to Transitional Safeguarding and councils are ideally placed to enable complexity-attuned commissioning, says Dez Holmes.
For your free daily news bulletin
Highways jobs

Director of Children's Safeguarding and Care 

Gloucestershire County Council
Up to £116,391, plus relocation support
We are looking to fill this vital role at a very important time for us.  Our children’s services team is on an important journey of... Gloucestershire
Recuriter: Gloucestershire County Council

Corporate Director

Ceredigion County Council
£97,294 - £104,086
We are looking to recruit an ambitious and truly transformational leader to support the delivery of modernised and sustainable services to... Penmorfa, Porthmadog
Recuriter: Ceredigion County Council

Street Works Co-ordinator

Lincolnshire County Council
£21,153 - £23,791
Do you want to make a difference to how Street Works are managed within Lincolnshire? Lincolnshire
Recuriter: Lincolnshire County Council

Community Co-ordinator (Health inequalities)

Brent Council
£32,418 - £34,209 p.a. inc.
The successful candidate will have evidenced experience of working in a community environment. Brent, London (Greater)
Recuriter: Brent Council

Homelessness Prevention and Relief Officer

Brent Council
£32,418 - £34,209 p.a. inc. (pro-rata)
You must have an understanding of homelessness legislation, and an ability to learn legislation quickly with training, coupled with... Brent, London (Greater)
Recuriter: Brent Council

Public Property

Latest issue - Public Property News

This issue of Public Property examines how how flexible workspaces can lead the way in regeneration for local authorities, Why local authority intervention is key to successful urban regeneration schemes and if the Government’s challenge of embracing beauty is an opportunity for communities.

The March issue also takes a closer look at Blackburn with Darwen Council's first digital health hub to help people gain control over health and care services.

Register for your free digital issue