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Last Updated: Wednesday, 29 November 2006, 14:21 GMT
Council ordered to pay care costs
Public Services Ombudsman Alice Brown
The ombudsman welcomed a review of free personal care
A local authority has been ordered to reimburse the cost of a 90-year-old's free personal care, following an inquiry by a public services watchdog.

Argyll and Bute Council said a lack of money meant it was not able to fund the man's care between February and June.

The man's son complained to the Public Services Ombudsman after the Scottish Executive said the council had been given sufficient funding.

The watchdog said the case had raised concerns over policy implementation.

The elderly resident, named as Mr A in the report, was the subject of a care needs assessment in December 2005.

At the time, his wife, who was his principal carer, applied for funds to assist with care home costs before arranging his place within a home.

I think this ruling could be a landmark in saying to councils you are not on
Shona Robison
SNP health spokeswoman

In February, the council said Mr A was eligible but would not receive any funds as its allocation had already been spent.

Eric Drake, deputy to the ombudsman, said: "He didn't get that money at the point he needed it because the council said they had run out of money at that point, we said that wasn't fair."

When Mr A complained to the executive, he was told it was the council's responsibility to ensure adequate resources were available to meet the needs of elderly residents.

A complaint against the council was upheld by the watchdog, while the claim that the executive "had failed to ensure that the council provided a service" was not upheld.

'Immediate problems'

Douglas Hendry, director of care services at Argyll and Bute Council, said: "If the council's decision is the findings in the report are ones we can accept then of course we will make a payment to the individual concerned.

"If the principle behind the decision is rolled out that waiting lists could never be applied, then it would be of significance in just about every council in Scotland."

Mr Hendry said the bill to local authorities could run into millions of pounds.

The executive is conducting a review of free personal care, which is expected to be published next year.

However, Ombudsman Alice Brown said: "I am concerned that the inevitable time delay in conducting such a comprehensive review does not address the immediate problems of the many individuals like Mr A who have been assessed as eligible but are subsequently denied funding for an indeterminate period of time."

She said she would highlight the case to the executive "to illustrate the real and practical difficulties" encountered by some citizens which the policy was meant to benefit.

SNP MSP Shona Robison, the party's health spokeswoman, said: "I would like to think the councils will look at this ruling, act accordingly and put their house in order and stop the use of waiting lists for people who are entitled to free personal care.

"I think this ruling could be a landmark in saying to council's you are not on."

The decision could be a landmark ruling in the dispute

Tories call for free care refund
05 Oct 06 |  Scotland
'Confusion' over free care policy
28 Aug 06 |  Scotland
Call for care compensation claims
18 Aug 06 |  South of Scotland
Call to extend free personal care
07 Feb 06 |  Scotland

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