A recent case in the High Court has ruled in favour of a daughter who took the local council to court to prevent them selling her mother’s home.
Mary Walford who is aged 92, moved into a local council care home in 2006. The council carried out a financial assessment of her assets to ascertain whether or not she could contribute to the cost of her care. Mary owned her own home and the council argued that the value of Mary’s home could be included in the financial assessment when considering Mary’s ability to contribute to the cost of her care. This is normally the case in England.
Mary’s daughter Glen challenged the council because she claimed that she kept a room in the house, even though she lived elsewhere.
The Charging for Residential Accommodation Guidance (CRAG) rules gives guidance to local councils regarding what can and cannot be included in any financial assessment. The rules state that the value of a person’s home must be disregarded from the assessment, if it is occupied by a relative who is aged 60 or over.
Glen’s circumstances were that although she rented a studio flat in London (where she worked in theatre) she had kept a bedroom, office and shed for her own use at her mother’s home. She argued that she had spent money on the maintenance of the property. She was also over 60 when her mother went into care and so her view was that the value of her mother’s property should be disregarded. She also made clear her intention to return to live in the property when she retired, which as she was aged 70, was not long off.
The Council argued that she didn’t use her mother’s home as her own home but rather as a holiday home, only using it when she travelled up to Worcestershire to visit her mother in the care home.
The Court ruled that the council had applied the test incorrectly by considering whether or not Glen actually occupied the house, or was in permanent residence there. They also indicated that the council should have taken into account Glen’s long relationship with the property and her physical and emotional attachment to it.
The council, not surprisingly, has indicated that it intends to appeal the decision.
If the Court’s decision is allowed to stand, this case could potentially widen the ability for families to argue similar points. Potentially anyone aged over 60 could argue that they had kept a room for themselves in a relative’s property, without actually having to reside there permanently.
We can offer advice on Local Authority assessments where funding is inappropriately refused, not sufficient, reduced or removed. For further information please contact Justine Clowes in our Elderly, Care & Mental Capacity team on 01625 442148.