22 Dec 2022

Ombudsman provides councils with guidance on residential care fees and ‘deprivation of assets’

When people go into a care home a financial assessment is carried out to see if they should fund the care fees themselves or if the local authority will be responsible for these.

When, carrying out this assessment the financial assessor will look to see if any assets have been given away with the deliberate intention that this deprives the owner of enough capital so they can no longer pay their own care fees.

If this happens, the value of the gift/s is not discounted when carrying out the financial assessment, so it doesn’t work as a way to avoid paying for care.

The Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman (LGSCO) however, has found that in many cases, the council will just assume that any gifts were made to deliberately deprive the owner of assets, and some councils are wrongly applying the personal expenses allowance to people who do fund their own care.

Therefore, the LGSCO has released guidance to English Councils, warning them, that they should not simply assume that the person has deprived themselves of an asset with the intent of reducing what they should pay towards their care and support. They should first fully explore whether there are other valid reasons why someone no longer owns an asset and should ask the individual or their representative for their version of events before making decisions on deprivation of capital. The council should also bear in mind that a decision of intentional deprivation of capital requires the individual to have had a 'reasonable expectation' they may need to pay towards that care and support at the time of the deprivation. The timing of the disposal of an asset can thus help inform a decision about the person’s motivation for disposing of it, says the guidance.