Counciil Threatening Court Action on Care Home Fees - Advice Appreciated

Discussion in 'Legal and financial issues' started by Maaarrghk, Jun 8, 2015.

  1. Maaarrghk

    Maaarrghk Registered User

    Jan 2, 2013
    #1 Maaarrghk, Jun 8, 2015
    Last edited: Jun 8, 2015
    My Mum has been in a care home for over 2 years and has very advanced Alzheimers.

    I rent out her old home (having LPA) and use rent plus state pension plus attendance allowance to pay part of the fees. She is on the defferred loan scheme for any shortfall and has been on this since entering the care home.

    I have just had a DST assessment done for CHC. This has been refused, but Mum has been granted 30% Funded Nursing Care from April 1st.

    I am appealing the decision not to grant CHC, but am accepting the FNC payments while the appeal goes through.

    Currently fees are £454 a week and she pays £254 a week. She now gets an extra £136 a week in FNC. This is paid by arrangement every 4 weeks.

    Some weeks ago I got a letter from the council stating that new rules meant that she now had to pay for her care from April 6th till November in 3 installments, totaling £14,500. There was also a "fishing" form asking for details of all her assets and incomes. The letter went on to say that I should expect a further letter detailing the discount for being on the deferred loan scheme. So I waited for this. And waited.

    It didn't come, but what did come was a very threatening letter (dated 26th May, but arriving 1st June) stating that if I did not pay the full £14,500 "that I had agreed to pay" by June 2nd (the next day!) they would send out a county court summons without further reference to myself. Talk about having a gun put to your head.......

    I immediately wrote back stating that the deadline given without any opportunity to respond was unreasonable, that I had never agreed to pay that sum, that My Mum is on the deferred loan scheme, so does not have to pay any more than the current 4 weekly amount and that as her circumstances had just changed, the amount on the bill was now incorrect.

    Today, instead of the expected summons, I have had a further letter, which without once referring to my response, issues threats of debt collection agencies, county court proceedings, all associated costs and additional costs etc, etc...

    I would be most grateful for any advice on how I should phrase a suitably appropriate response without resorting to semtex.

    Can they actually get away with this?

    As they have not sent the promised summons, do they know they are on dodgy ground? If so, then should I call their bluff and insist that they go to court, rather than wasting time with debt collectors, as I will not indulge them in further correspondence etc...?

    Can I counter-claim (yes), but for what? Demanding money with menaces? Being terminally stupid?

    Can they even consider demanding payments over and above what is already being paid when a CHC assessment/appeal is in progress? (I read somewhere recently that this would be unlawful).

    I hope that someone can provide me with some useful advice on how to successfully counter this, as I am extremely worried about all this and really do not need it when I should be focussing all my attention on the CHC appeal.
  2. AlsoConfused

    AlsoConfused Registered User

    Sep 17, 2010
    I just wanted to say that I think you're being very badly treated and I hope someone with the knowledge to help you gets in touch soon.
  3. Silver Bowler

    Silver Bowler Registered User

    May 8, 2013
    Use local poiticians

    I am not qualified to give you any legal advice. But I would immediately tell all your local councilors, ie borough councilor, county councilor and your MP. Just sending a copy of what you told us (with copies of documents from the council) will get at least one of them to ask the council for an explanation.

    I used to be a civil servant (on technical work) and the one thing to get bureaucrats worried is when a politician asks them questions. The boss convenes a meeting and wants to know how to avoid embarrassing him because of one awkward junior. He must avoid a PQ (Parliamentary Question). Hit 'em where it hurts,

  4. Fred Flintstone

    Fred Flintstone Registered User

    Aug 28, 2014
    S. E. England
    I agree with Silver Bowler

    Write to your MP, and telephone your County/District councillors.

    In circumstances like yours, I might be too angry to function, so you might ask for help from a charity volunteer, say from Age UK, or the AS.
  5. Pete R

    Pete R Registered User

    Jul 26, 2014
    Hi Maaarrghk,

    I cannot understand why you are getting these threatening letters but can sympathise with you. I had email from the finance office last month saying that if I had any more questions of them I should speak to their Dept Recovery Team.:mad:

    I made a stage 1 complaint about those remarks and all invoices/bills were suspended the next day and remain so till the complaint has been dealt with. Doing it via your MP may take a little more time but should get directly to the head of department in one giant leap.:)

    As for the problem itself. I take it your Mum is self funding and has in the past already had a Financial Assessment to organise the deferred payment?

    The New Care Act has changed things but with regard to Deferred Payments it is putting much more emphasis on Local Authorities to actually go down this route. One thing that can cause problems is if the LA think that the value of the property may not last much longer but they probably need to do another Financial Assessment before making that decision. Could that account for what you think as "fishing"?

    I wish you luck in appealing the CHC but as far as I am aware you/your Mum will have to continue paying till a decision has been reached.

    Good luck.:)
  6. Maaarrghk

    Maaarrghk Registered User

    Jan 2, 2013
    #6 Maaarrghk, Jun 9, 2015
    Last edited: Jun 9, 2015
    Thanks for all your comments.

    Getting the local MP involved sounds like a good idea, as does putting in an official complaint.

    Pete R. Yes my Mum is "self funding". Her house is in a very nice country area and there has been no problem finding a long term tenant at a good rent.

    She has been paying £1016 every 4 weeks for over a year (since we finished renovating the house and got it rented) and I have no issue with continuing to pay this amount.

    Now that Mum has an additional £136 a week FNC nursing care, (from April 1st), she is only £64 a week short of the full weekly charge for her care home fees. Hence this demand (for care between April 6th this year up till the end of November) seems especially odd.

    Remember also that I am currently appealing a CHC assessment that has refused her the full funding that she should be receiving, and will keep on appealing all the way to the Ombudsman or until CHC is granted. Bearing this in mind, and assuming that CHC would start from the same date that FNC was granted, it may well turn out that none of the amount being demanded would be owed.

    Something more obvious that I omitted asking in my original post was should I involve the Police?
  7. Pete R

    Pete R Registered User

    Jul 26, 2014
    From what you have said so far this has nothing to do with the Police. (Apart from your mention of semtex in your OP which might be best if you edit:))

    I am still a tad confused with a few things.

    Which part of the UK are you in as the FNC rate for England is £112? This can only be paid to a Nursing Home. You say your Mum is in a Care Home. If they do Nursing care as well the FNC normally goes on top of the normal Care Home fees to help pay towards the Nurses..

    Who have you been paying the fees to the Care Home or the Local Authority? Have you continued to pay them since April?

    As I said before, whilst appealing CHC you still have to pay and if you are successful you then start the long process of claiming the money back from the NHS/CCG.

    Only an assumption on my part but if you had a deferred payment agreement in place and the LA paid the Care Home in full and then you paid the LA your Mum's contribution (Pension, rent, AA) and have now refused to pay because of the CHC appeal this could be why they have taken a more stern approach.
  8. Maaarrghk

    Maaarrghk Registered User

    Jan 2, 2013
    Hi Pete.

    I am in Calderdale (Halifax) and the FNC can be paid to a care home as it is not just nurses that provide care that is classed as "nursing". It is because my Mum is in a care home rather than a nursing home that an additional £24 on top of the more usual £112 has been allowed.

    I have been paying the fees to the local authority and Mum is on the deferred loan scheme, as mentioned in my opening post. I have not ceased paying the 4 weekly contribution of £1016 and do not intend to cease paying this.

    In fact, if Mum is awarded full CHC in the coming months, continuing to pay the 4 weekly contributions will simply reduce the amount owing on the deferred loan. There should be no need for me to chase anyone for refunds - the LA and NHS can fight that one out between themselves.

    Obviously, when I mentioned semtex, I was referring to S.E.M.T.EX - Send 'Em Mounds of Toxic Excretia. Totally different. Obviously. Honest.
  9. Wirralson

    Wirralson Account Closed

    May 30, 2012
    #9 Wirralson, Jun 10, 2015
    Last edited: Jun 10, 2015
    Yes they can consider demanding payments while a CHC appeal is in progress.

    They are not demanding money with menaces - that refers to threats of violence.

    What you don't say is the basis on which you are administering your mother's affairs. I assume you are the Deputy or PoA holder? Your say your mother is on the "deferred payment scheme". Are you paying the LA or the care home?

    It sounds to me as though they have imposed a new requirement for instalments 9whcih they may or may not have notified to you - this is a common way for LAs to improve their cash-flow reduce their current cash liabilities - (which can be horrendously expensive to them - it means borrowing short-term from the equivalent of payday loan companies).

    It does sound like someone has set up an automated system to generate the letters (a sort of mailmerge on steroids) and it is sending the wrong letters.

    They are almost certainly in breach of DPA98 if they are telling you they hold data you have agreed to pay and you haven't, but you really need a solicitor pronto. A competent specialist will cost about £200 per hour, and the LA (if in error) should refund the costs to you.


    PS By all means contact MPs/Councillors but make the legal route your main effort. The LA will suply the reply to the MP and Councillors.... I see no reason to try involving the police. As far as I can see no offence has been committed.
  10. Pete R

    Pete R Registered User

    Jul 26, 2014
    I didn't know that was possible. Seems like a good idea.

    With all you have said I can see no reason for their letters so good luck in with the complaint process.:)
  11. Maaarrghk

    Maaarrghk Registered User

    Jan 2, 2013
    #11 Maaarrghk, Jun 11, 2015
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 11, 2015
    Thank you Pete R and Wirralson for your most recent comments. I hold LPA for my Mums financial affairs and am her only living close relative.

    Fees are paid to the LA, who in turn pay the care home. I am responsible for making payments.

    I got another letter form the LA today, that is much more conciliatory in its tone. They have acknowledged that I am making regular large payments and that my Mum now also gets the FNC. The FNC is paid directly to the care home. It seems they are starting to pay attention.

    They go on to say that they believe that my Mums inclusion on the deferred payment scheme was on a temporary basis only. So it suggests to me that somebody at the LA did not do their job properly over 2 years ago when my Mum moved into the care home. Either that or they are trying to pull a fast one to try and get some cash in.

    So I foresee a bit more of a fight coming up, as C********* MBC are making no attempt to hide the fact that they are cash strapped.

    As a digression, FNC is a payment for nursing care that can only be granted after a CHC assessment. It cannot be offerred as an alternative without a CHC assessment taking place. Nursing care does not have to be provided by nurses - it can be provided by normal care home staff, but it is unlawful for social services to provide or pay for it. All nursing care must be funded by the NHS.

    I would suggest a trip over to the care to be different website for lots of useful information regarding both CHC and FNC.
  12. Wirralson

    Wirralson Account Closed

    May 30, 2012
    #12 Wirralson, Jun 11, 2015
    Last edited: Jun 11, 2015
    I suggest you edit your post to remove the LA name as per site Terms and Conditions (and in the interests of your mother's and your on-line privacy).Suggested version in bold in quotation.

    Those using "Care to be Different" may wish to note that it is a commercial website, and advertises it own paid advice. Although it is occasionally quoted on here, some may consider this a recommendation whcih is also a breach of T&Cs (for example mentioning named solicitors on this site is (normally) treated asa breach of T&Cs).

    Glad to here things are easing and hope it gets better.

  13. Maaarrghk

    Maaarrghk Registered User

    Jan 2, 2013
    Thanks for the advice Wirralson. I will keep you posted on what happens.

    I think it's going to go something like:-

    Me: "Oh yes she is (on deferred loan scheme)"

    Nameless LPA: "Oh no she isn't."

    Me: "Oh yes she is".

    Etc, etc......

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