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Last Updated: Thursday, 15 February 2007, 16:40 GMT
Authority agrees free care refund
A man asleep
Council officials said the authority had to act over the charges
Clackmannanshire Council will have to foot a bill of about 300,000 to refund charges for elderly care services which should have been free.

The local authority said it had been misinformed by ministers over whether it should charge for meal preparation, and would now look to be reimbursed.

However, the Scottish Executive said councils had been provided with adequate funding to deliver free care.

Clackmannanshire has not budgeted to meet the costs.

It now faces having to dip into cash reserves to pay the bill.

The council claims that executive guidance in 2002 stated that local authorities could charge for meal preparation tasks for older people at home.

Claiming costs

The council, which stopped charging in 2004 following subsequent guidance, had held off on a decision over refunds while local authority umbrella group Cosla pursued the matter through the civil courts.

But the council said that, as the matter had not been resolved, it would give back the money itself - while claiming the costs back from ministers.

Clackmannanshire councillor Sam Ovens said: "The mistake was the executive's to begin with and while we sympathise with those affected, it's not fair that the rest of our taxpayers are left to pick up the pieces.

"Misinformation from the executive has effectively cost the council around 300,000."

An executive spokeswoman said variations in local authorities' interpretations of free personal care legislation were "ultimately a matter for them".

"We have provided local authorities with adequate resources to deliver the free personal and nursing care policy, which has been implemented successfully," she said.

"It is up to each local authority to decide how to spend their allocation of block grant based on their local needs and priorities."


SEE ALSO
Authority faces elderly care bill
09 Feb 07 |  Tayside and Central
1.5m budget for free care claims
05 Feb 07 |  South of Scotland
6m 'diverted' from care budget
29 Jan 07 |  Glasgow and West
Council appeals free care ruling
20 Dec 06 |  Glasgow and West
Council ordered to pay care costs
29 Nov 06 |  Glasgow and West

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