How a Community Care Law caseworker in Brighton successfully challenged an incorrect Local Authority financial assessment; and over-turned a decision to self-fund care home fees.
Karl Hoffman got in touch with Clare English at Martin Searle Solicitors regarding his 70 year old mother Edna.
Karl, his wife and young son shared a house in Sussex which had been the Hoffman family home for 37 years. Karl and several other members of the Hoffman family had lived at the house over the years, including Edna’s brother Thom who was now in his 80s.
Karl had invested a lot of time and money in the house, and Edna decided to gift 50% of the value of the house to Karl by transferring the ownership into their joint names.
Unfortunately, in April 2014 Edna was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. The family began caring for her at home but the disease progressed quickly. By late 2014, Karl and his wife were finding it increasingly difficult to care for Edna at home.
Karl and his family decided that Edna should move into residential care. They found a room in a local care home and approached the Local Authority for a financial assessment to access Social Services funding, as Edna’s assets were below the £23,250 threshold.
They were verbally assured by Edna’s social worker that she would receive Social Services assistance with her care home fees. However, the Local Authority finance team stated Edna would be required to self-fund her care home fees because her assets, including the value of her share of the house, exceeded £23,250.
This forced Karl to believe the only way in which his mother could pay for care would be to sell the family home making Karl, his family, and Edna’s brother Thom homeless.
Karl sought Martin Searle Solicitors’ help to challenge the Local Authority financial assessment, when his own attempts had proved fruitless.
Clare explained that Social Services concluded that when Edna had given Karl half of the house, this was a case of Deliberate Deprivation of Assets.
This is when a Local Authority believes that someone asking for help with their care home fees has given away their money or property to reduce their assets to below £23,250, to qualify for Social Services funding. In other words, Social Services conclude it was transferred to avoid care home fees.
Social Services will treat the person needing care as if they still own the assets and refuse to help pay for their care.
Clare wrote to the Local Authority pointing out that their financial assessment of Edna had incorrectly taken into account the value of her home when calculating her assets.
The Care and Support Statutory Guidance (C&SSG) which underpins the Care Act 2014, states that the value of a person’s home must be disregarded if it is occupied by a relative who is over 60 years old.
The assessor had failed to note that the property had been Thom’s home for many years, and hence the value of Edna’s share of the house should be disregarded by the financial assessment.
Clare provided the Local Authority with evidence of Thom’s residence at the house and asked them to redo the financial assessment taking this information properly in to account.
Within two weeks of receiving Clare’s letter the Local Authority acknowledged that their financial assessment for Edna had been incorrect.
The calculations were redone and the Local Authority agreed to make the required contribution to Edna’s care home fees, over and above the payment she made from her own income.
Karl was very relieved that his family’s home would not have to be sold to pay for his mother’s care home fees and was very grateful for Martin Searle Solicitors’ assistance.
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