Councils have been told they are not allowed to set maximum budget levels when calculating the cost of people’s care by the sector’s ombudsman.
The Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman said that capping personal budgets goes against the requirements of the Care Act.
It made the announcement after an investigation found Wiltshire Council was placing people into bands rather than paying for care based on need. It also found the council was using an outdated matrix tool to calculate the amount of support offered to the family.
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 council has agreed to apologise to the mother at the centre of this investigation and restore the previous level of respite care. It has also agreed to review files for evidence of use of the outdated matrix tool, and will review the cases of anyone else affected.
Mr King added: ‘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.’
A Wiltshire Council spokesperson said: 'We fully accept the findings from the Ombudsman. We will be apologising to the family for any distress caused.
'We are already addressing the specific issues highlighted with the family, and more generally for our service going forward. We no longer use the matrix tool that was used to calculate the support available from our in-house respite services, and ensuring that all the decisions we take regarding people’s care are fully in line with the Care Act.'