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Council rapped over handling of care fees case

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A council has come in for criticism after it refused to fund care for a man who has suffered a serious brain injury, having argued he had already received a substantial pay-out.

The man in question had been left with “critical needs” following a head injury sustained during a road crash and subsequently received a personal injury settlement of almost £3million.

His circumstances meant that St Helen’s Council had refused to carry out a financial needs assessment.

The local authority’s argument was that paying the bill for the individual’s care would be classed as “double recovery”, the term used when a person is receiving both council funding and personal injury payments to cover the costs.

The Local Government Ombudsman was not satisfied by this stance and has argued that St Helen’s should not have taken the personal injury claim into consideration when reaching its decision.

A report prepared by the watchdog said that officers had disregarded both relevant case law and then government guidance, which said that local authorities should only take into account income generated from such a settlement and not the capital itself.

The Ombudsman has recommended that the council now continues with a financial assessment and pay any money owed to the man, dating back to January 2012.

However, the council has disputed the report’s findings.

A spokesman said: “The council has previously given serious consideration to the points made by the Local Government Ombudsman in this sensitive matter.

“In particular, the council has considered the relevant case law, but has found itself in disagreement with the conclusions which the Ombudsman has reached in applying relevant case law to the facts of the complaint.

“The council will consider the report and its recommendations in a fair and balanced way prior to responding to the Ombudsman.”