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Money For Nothing

February 4, 2017

There’s been a couple of interesting reports in the past couple of days – both concerning money.

Firstly, Community Care reported that Northamptonshire Council have shelved their plans to charge people to have a care assessment. (http://www.communitycare.co.uk/2017/01/30/council-shelves-unlawful-plans-charge-social-care-assessments/)

Then I saw on twitter that there have been suggestions by providers of care homes (i.e. the managing authority) to charge the people being detained for their DoLS assessment at £250 a time. (http://www.communitycare.co.uk/2017/02/02/care-home-charges-residents-dols-authorisations/)

In the first case, the council spokesperson goes to lengths to reassure readers that the charge would only have applied to self funders. But that misses the point surely? What about the Care Act and the right to an assessment of needs? I listened to a programme on Radio 4 the other day which featured to senior officials from two major care companies. The first took mainly self funders; the second relied (about 80%) on their funding from the LAs and CCGs. There was a slight suggestion (although it wasn’t developed) that the self funders are extremely attractive to care companies because they can carry the burden of the costs. Once you have that mindset, that self funders are lucrative cash cows, it doesn’t take too much imagination to see how a charging policy for an assessment would have the money men drooling.

In the second case, I cannot seriously believe that anyone in the care provider board really think charging a resident to be detained is a cool idea. A decent chunk of people who would fall under the DoLS scheme won’t want to be living where they are detained but will now be expected to pay for that privilege. Least we forget, the “S” is DoLS stands for safeguards. It turns the spirit of the Mental Capacity Act on his head that rather than safeguard that fall within its scope, the safeguards can now be used to rip people off. And what happens if you don’t want to pay? Will the managing authority ignore the DoLS process and detain the person unlawfully?

There are precedents for this in the care world. Steven has to pay the Office of the Public Guardian £350 per year for the pleasure of having me as his financial deputy. I’ve mentioned before that I’ve worked out if I spend none of Steven’s savings, in six years time they will all be gone, eaten up by the OPG.

A few years back, I did a FOI about carers assessments. I know that some LAs are charging for a carers assessment. In my local authority, in the year the FOI request covered, they carried out 1121 carers assessments. Of that 1121, only 8 produced anything for the carer. If all those 1121 people got charged for their assessment, that’s quite a tidy income for the council.

It’s the double standards that astound me. The State goes to extraordinary lengths trying to prevent people from getting something to which they are entitled. Twitter is awash daily with tales of parents having to fight long and bruising battles over SEND issues. Expensive lawyers are hired to stop the LA having to provide special educational needs provision. I’ll never forget my housing benefit appeal and turning up for the tribunal to discover that the LA had engaged an expert housing barrister to represent them. At the second hearing, the judge found that the LA had acted unlawfully. Whatever they saved by not paying my benefit would have been cancelled out several times over by the legal fees. And the biggest areas of this horrid mismatch happens at inquests. The family of the bereaved can seldom get legal representation via legal aid but the State bodies can spend an absolute fortune of taxpayer’s money on defending their reputation.

LAs will try and rinse their clients off every which way these days. When Steven was in the ATU, I kept receiving invoices charging him £118 per week for his stay there. I wrote last year that the council has a policy to “reset” disability expenditure to zero every year when calculating the financial assessment and subsequently send out out a bill of charges towards the personal budget. You could easily miss that your expenditure has been ignored and start paying a contribution that you don’t need to make. When Steven moved last year, I discovered the LA does exactly the same thing with their council tax. Each year, or each change of address, the LA removes the disability marker from the council tax resulting in the disabled person receiving a full charge.

Every single example I have raised in this post has come about because of a conscious decision by a council committee. A group of men and women, with their integrity left outside the door, have sat around a committee table and discussed how best to rip their most vulnerable clients off in a way that won’t be found out or in a way that makes legal challenge virtually impossible.

It’s sickening.

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18 Comments
  1. Shirley Buckley permalink

    Mark Martin’s case is the biggest rip off in the history of the MCA. The LA illegally over ruled my EPA to have all Martin’s benefits paid to them. This was in April 2o14. Since then they have only paid him his DLA, and have failed to pay him his lower mobility allowance. They are unable to produce any proper accounts for Martin. Also in 2014 they decided Martin was not eligible for Continuing Health Care, and refuse to reconsider his case. But Chiltern (the CCG) continue topay half of the fees for his residential care home, which are £2,400 A WEEK) Martin has been under a DoLs statutory for three years, it will be renewed this April, and I am not able to appeal it, as the LA wont accept me as RPR. As Martin has capacity, the whole thing is illegal anyway. He has to pay £80 a week out of his benefits towards his board and keep, but has no choice as to any of his meals. His only activities under the DoLs are once a fortnight alone to the local cafe, where he buys a meal out of his own money, and once a fortnight to the take away which he also buys out of his own money. His GP, and his epilepsy consultant have both refused to do a capacity assessmentalthough requested to do so by the Court. The LA have refused to do any sort of assessment. His RPR insists that she is not there to represent him under DoLs. The CoP Mr Justice Charles states in his judgments that it is in Martin’s best interests to remain in the home in Cardiff for the foreseeable future. Everything Finola Moss writes in her blog is true. LEGAL CHALLENGE IS VIRTUALLY IMPOSSIBLE

  2. Cathy Hodge permalink

    Bloody awful. Lets make a quick Buck.
    Why pick on those most vulnerable.
    Reading these reports gives me nightmares, and leaves me wondering what will happen to my son, when i’m no longer here to care for him.

  3. simone aspis permalink

    Mark what happens if you are on benefits and you are unable to afford the £350 per year – this does not make it right I know – just interested?

    • You can claim an exemption from payment. Unfortunately, the damages that Steven received puts him in a chargeable category.

  4. simone aspis permalink

    Could someone explain what are RPR and their legal duties and who appoints them – I kind of get the sense they are to do with challenging deprivation of liberty “safeguards” – does not sound like that hence the quotes! Thanks

    • Yes. When a DoL is authorised the supervisory body has to appoint an RPR (relevant person’s representative) to put their case and ensure the process is conducted in the person’s best interests.

  5. Shirley Buckley permalink

    Exactly. But Martin’s RPR has refused to have anything to do with the DoLs, and is acting as an advocate. Martin is about to go into the fourth year of statutory authorisation, and no one has appealed it. Previously, he was 5 years deprived of liberty without any authorisation. There have been no best interests decisions other than that he must stay in the residential home.

  6. simone aspis permalink

    supervisory body has to appoint an RPR (relevant person’s representative – who is the supervision body is that the LA or the institution that is depriving person of their liberty or daren’t I wish it was an independent body – if its the former two then appears to be a massive conflict of interest – why would LA want a “gobby” and “stroppy” RPR that upholds disabled person’s right to enjoys the same freedoms as their non disabled peers!

  7. Shirley Buckley permalink

    Simone the supervisory body is the LA, of course, the managing authority is the residential home. You are right, this is the most massive conflict of interests.. There is no independent body involved anywhere in the whole process, as far as I can see. Martin’s RPR comes from Mind!

  8. shocking that Mind are content to be hand in hand with the LA here in blatantly breaking the law. Martin is without representation.

    • Shirley Buckley permalink

      Yes, he is without representation. And this is with a mother who has fought tooth and nail for him in the CoP for11 years. There are all the thousands without anyone, who are being scammed under the DoLs every day.

      • shameful , Mind must be lacking in awareness surely . The role of Martin’s RPR should be relinquished by the person holding it if they are unable or unwilling to perform the duties it demands. Whistle blowers need speak out when they are aware that contact is not being maintained by appointed representatives. Martin has the right to appeal this spring, I will be thinking of you at that time Shirley.

  9. simone aspis permalink

    that is probrobly because the RPRs are employed by an organisation who run services that have DOLS in place for some of their residents whilst being funded by the LA – no expert on DOLS and RPRs as you can see from my very basic questions – seem like a complete stitch up – that needs to be challenged – its like the LA being in charge of assessment and funding of SEND provision in schools……

  10. Shirley Buckley permalink

    I can’t challenge it. I have been trying to stop this since 2007. The LA refuse to communicate with me. as does the residential care home. the GP, the epilepsy consultant, and Chiltern CCG. The Court of Protection has stated categorically that Martin lacks capacity in all areas, and the OS must represent him in Court. Martin himself has written to the Court, and his letters have been ignored. All I want for him is that he, personally, should appeal the dols in Court, with all the practical help possible. This has been denied him. Every lawyer I have used to try and sort this out hhas broken their contract. At the moment Martin is in non convulsive status epilepticus and his capacity fluctuates. NCSE is a serious conition, but there are no safeguards in place. Mark thank you for letting me use your blog for this – its the best way of getting it out there

  11. your hands are tied Shirley and you are oblique to put your faith in the system which is all anyone can do , ageUK have factsheets this month signposting relatives to Mind and Mind continue to reassure that RPRs act in all matters. No real comfort but fresh faces/eyes at the LA/ care home, alert to Martin’s communications and their obligations, may yet bring about change . We all place our trust in the system, it desperately needs monitoring. Appalled at Martin’s plight, best wishes to him in being supported by an effective RPR and advocate this year.

  12. Shirley Buckley permalink

    Just heard the case IS going to the CoP – at last. Won’t blog for a bit, keeping quiet, and praying Or whatever) thank you all for your interest.

  13. simone aspis permalink

    what is the IS case and its significance?

  14. Shirley Buckley permalink

    sorry Simone I meant Martin’s case is now going to the Court of Protection

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