In response to the Local Government Ombudsman’s report investigating a complaint made against Tameside Metropolitan Borough Council by the family of an elderly care home resident concerning top-up fees, Simon Bottery, Director of Policy at Independent Age, said:
“It is completely unacceptable that Tameside Metropolitan Borough Council has refused to implement the recommendations of the Local Government Ombudsman in a case concerning care home top-up fees. Independent Age calls on the council to accept the recommendations of the Ombudsman in full.
“The Ombudsman found Tameside guilty of maladministration in requiring an elderly woman with dementia to top up her care home fees herself when the council decided to reduce the amount it paid towards her care. Tameside refused to implement most of the ombudsman’s recommendations, including repaying the top-up fees paid by the woman, apologising and making a small compensation payment to the woman’s son. The Ombudsman has reviewed Tameside’s response but reaffirmed its original decision.
“The case highlights again the ‘secret subsidy’ of top-up fees, which are paid by many families towards the care home fees of a relative who should in fact be fully-funded by the council. The law says top-up fees should only be paid for better-than-standard care but some care homes in fact use them to supplement the low rates paid to them by councils, and many councils make no attempt to stop this practice.”