Deprivation Of Assets ? An Interesting Judgement In September : South Gloucestershire LA

Local Government Lawyer

Council criticised over decision on care home costs and deprivation of capital.


**_A council failed to take into consideration all relevant facts when deciding that an elderly couple had deliberately deprived themselves of capital in order to reduce the husband’s care costs, the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman (LGO) has concluded.

The LGO said an investigation found that South Gloucestershire Council did not fully explore the reasons why the couple had transferred money to their daughter and son-in-law, before reaching its decision, and did not provide the couple with the reasons for its decision.

The council did not carry out a financial assessment in line with the Care Act either, it added.

The background to the case was that the husband, who has a number of health conditions including Parkinson’s Disease and dementia, had been living with his wife in their family home. Over the years the family had spent significant sums to adapt the home and garden to ensure he could remain there for as long as possible.

In the 1980s and 1990s the couple gave three of their children help to purchase their houses. Their fourth had been living in tied accommodation to her husband’s job, and so had not needed help to buy until he retired.

The husband’s condition deteriorated at the same time as the couple’s daughter needed help to buy a house.

He was placed in a nursing home and a financial assessment of the couple took into account the money they had recently given to their daughter and son-in-law. This meant they had to pay the full cost of his care, which they said they could not afford.
The LGO has recommended that South Gloucestershire:

apologise to the family ;

pay the wife £250 to recognise the distress the situation caused her ;

review its decision that the couple deprived themselves of capital to avoid care charges, after first giving the wife the chance to provide further evidence to support her case ;

give the wife a properly reasoned decision showing the evidence it has considered in accordance with statutory guidance ;

review its current procedures and guidance for staff on how to deal with cases where deprivation of capital may have occurred; and
ensure financial assessments are carried out at the correct time.

Ombudsman Michael King said: “The guidance says people should be treated with dignity and are free to spend their income as they see fit – including, in this case, making a similar gift to one daughter as they have done previously for their other adult children.

“The council’s actions have caused this family additional stress and worry, at a time when the wife was already faced with the emotional trauma of placing her husband into a nursing home.

“South Gloucestershire Council now needs to consider our report and consider what action it will take.”

A South Gloucestershire Council spokesperson said: “We acknowledge the findings in this report, and we will be implementing all of the Ombudsman’s recommendations.

“The report is being considered carefully and will be discussed by councillors at a future committee meeting (details tbc). Once published, copies of the report will be made available free of charge from our Kingswood and Yate One Stop Shops.”_**

Very handy web site for cases … Local Governmnent Lawyer … plenty of real meal inside :

Hmm, looks like the lesson here is, had the couple simply handed over the same amount of money to the daughter in the tied accommodation at the SAME TIME as they handed their gifts to the other siblings, there would not have been a problem down the line.

If the ‘tied accommodation’ daughter had received the money simultaneously with her siblings, but simply ‘put it in the bank’ etc, the council would not have been able to complain.

I’m glad the court found in the couple’s favour in this instance. Shows how complicated the whole damn issue is!

The lesson is - if you are old, give away your money early and equally!!

The full report went into a lot more detail, the above is only a summary. Due to outside events (house purchases falling through etc) the money gifted left the carees bank account the day before he went into Home so one can understand why they jumped to conclusions.
The baseline that council should have investigated better, and that someone can spend their own money reasonably remain though

HOWEVER proves how importnat it is still keep detailed records and document everything as investigations are likely. It’s all evidence.

Yes, that definitely does look ‘suspicious’ I agree! But just goes to show, as you say, that things are not always as they appear. This is an expensive lesson presumably for the council, which must have had to pay defence costs etc etc??

I still think there needs to be an equivalent of the ‘seven year’ rule that applies to avoiding inheritance tax on gits. It would surely be so much simpler!