Monday, 13 October 2014

Do Barnet Council want to grab your grannies house? Consultation on deferred care payments scheme

I was a tad disturbed to read a press release on the Councils website. It seems that they are consulting about a scheme to take peoples property as collateral against the cost of care.They have put the following press release on their website - -

Barnet Council is seeking the views of residents on proposals which would allow older people to defer the cost of their care.The proposals are part of changes the government is making through the introduction of the Care Act 2014 to the ways in which social care services are delivered nationally.

This Act requires all local authorities to offer a universal deferred payments scheme from April 2015.

The proposals will mean people may not need to sell their home in their lifetime to pay for the cost of their care. Under the scheme, people who need to move into residential care or a nursing home, and who meet nationally set eligibility criteria, will have the option to enter into a legal agreement with the council to defer or delay payments until some time in the future or until after the person passes away. Care costs would be paid for by the council and then be recovered once the property has been sold. Currently the Department of Health has set out draft guidance on how the universal deferred payment scheme will work.

Barnet Council has drafted its proposals for implementing the new scheme which takes into account Department of Health guidance.The council would like to hear residents’ views on these proposals.

The consultation runs until 21 October.

Further information on the proposals and the questionnaire can be found by visiting the engage website.

Alternatively residents can request a hard copy by phoning 020 8359 4666.

The council is also running a number of focus groups for community organisations which support people already using social care services or who may need to use them in the future.

Community organisations which would like to arrange a session should do so by email

Councillor Sachin Rajput, Chairman of the Adults and Safeguarding Committee, said: “This consultation is about important proposals for people who may need to move into residential care or a nursing home. 

“We are very keen to hear what people have to say about how these changes should be offered, and I would like to encourage as many people as possible to get in touch and tell us what they think.”

I am rather confused about these proposals. The full details are detailed here - -  it seems that the idea of the scheme is that the council take a charge on a property if one of the residents is to move into care. This will allow a spouse/relatives to continue living in the property. Whilst in the short term this will help relatives, what happenes when the relative in residential care passes away? At this point the debt becomes due and presumably the house is sold.

Section 17.5 explains the end game with this scheme
17.5 The deferred payment will automatically come to an end on a person’s death. The debt can either be paid from a person’s estate or by a third party, for example a family member may choose to settle the debt rather than sell the deceased’s property. If the agreement is terminated through a person’s death the total amount due becomes payable within 90 days after the person dies.
 What concerns me about this scheme is not the fact that peoples homes are used as collateral against debt run up through infirmity. It is not unreasonable for asset rich people to pay for their own care or even for the council to be able to recover the costs from their estate. What concerns me is the small print. The money is recoverable within 90 days of the death of the person in care. When my mother died it took nearly two years to resolve issues of probate and sell her property. It strikes me that 90 days is far too short a period to reasonably expect a family to complete a sale. As the debt is secured against a rising asset, surely a more reasonable period would be six months. As presumably other family members will have to find alternative living arrangements, they will have a lot on their plate.

Another thing which slightly worries me is that there seems to be some small print. I wonder how and who calculates the interest and legal charges. What really worries me is that in these days of Capita, where every "commercial opportunity" is exploited, will the interest and charges be fully transparanet and cleared up front, or will there be a "nasty hidden surprise".
17.3  On termination the full amount due (care charges, interest accrued, administrative and legal fees) will be paid to the Council. 
It is vital that in this situation all parties are 100% clear as to exactly what the costs will be.

It is vitally important that people who have been involved in this sort of issue give the benefit of their experience to the council.  Please fill in the consultation - Here are all the details

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