A son has been told he must pay his late mother’s £11,000 care fees after the council found her assets had been deprived by more than £19,000 while she was in care.
The money had allegedly been used on vehicle maintenance and MOTs, a new car, kitchen appliances including a cooker and tumble-dryer for the man, flooring, meals out and a grandchild’s bed.
The Local Government Ombudsman did not uphold the unnamed man’s complaint against Lincolnshire County Council’s decision to charge him for his mother’s care.
According to the LGO report, the man, known as Mr X said his mother’s estate should not have to pay the fees, however, the council said he and/or his mother should not have spent money when it should have been used for her care.
Mr X’s mother began receiving home care in 2014 after a deterioration in her mobility.
She underwent full-time domiciliary care in October 2015 after moving into a care home, in June.
Until September that year, she was fully self-funded, however, the council began making a contribution to care costs after her capital reached £23,232.45.
A person is entitled to financial support if they have assets of less than £23,250.
From July 2016-December 2017, her costs were paid for by the NHS Continuing Healthcare fund, however, a review later said she was no longer eligible.
Mr X told the LGO inspector that the family “could not have known that they would later be asked to pay for her care.”
Lincolnshire County Council asked Mr X to fill-in a financial assessment form, expecting Mrs X to have gained £22,418.04 from her income and benefits, however, in December her assets had reduced to just over £9,000.
The council queried a number of withdrawals totalling more than £18,000 over an 18-month period when she was receiving care and discovered a number of expenditures it said should not be allowed.
Following Mrs X’s death in August 2018, the council arranged a revised bill for the full cost of her care for a 224-day period.
Mr X told the council some of the money had belonged to his late father, who had bought him a car prior to his death and expressed a wish that his money could be used to run and maintain it to care for his mother.
The LGO report said Mr X later spent almost £6,000 on car maintenance and a new car.
The council also said gifts of £1,000 to all of Mrs X’s sons in November 2016 and April 2017 should not be allowable.
According to the report, Mr X said the money was either to fulfil his father’s death-bed wishes or because his mother wanted to spend it on her family. He said, “It was..mum’s money to do as she wanted with.”
He initially accepted a balance of £2,462.48, admitting items such as the tumble-dryer and flooring, among others could not be accepted.
He also said he had made a number of payments into his mother’s account during the relevant period but the council, while agreeing to deduct the money from its bill, said this only represented 5.7% of the total sum.
Concluding, the inspector said: “Mr X says neither he nor his mother had any intention to avoid paying for Mrs X’s care costs.
“He says that, as power of attorney for his mother, he only acted in accordance with his parents’ wishes.
“However, the evidence shows that Mr X should have been aware that there was a possibility Mrs X would have to contribute to her care costs at some point in the future.
“She had to contribute at one point, before health funding took over for more than a year.
“During that period, Mrs X’s assets were reduced significantly, so that she was below the threshold for payment towards her care when the time came.
“The Council has shown it thoroughly considered the information Mr X provided about how Mrs X’s money was spent.”
The Ombudsman found no fault in Lincolnshire County Council’s actions.
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