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Council to appeal against court ruling on care home fees review

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: November 29, 2012

Devon Quality Care Forum says a fee rise of only 6% would be catastrophic for some dementia sufferers Picture: Alzheimer's Society

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Devon County Council has refused to raise care home fees – despite threats that homes will close – and is to fight a High Court decision which would require a review of charges it says will "divert millions of pounds" from vulnerable people.

The authority lost part of a judicial review earlier this month, brought by a group of care home owners angry at the way people in the county with dementia are funded.

The council has now completed the Equalities Impact Assessment, required by the High Court but the amount of money it pays private providers has not changed as a result.

It has lodged an appeal against the ruling, in order to "draw a line in the sand" over future legal challenges.

Councillors said they want to "put a stop to excessive, costly and unreasonable bureaucracy" surrounding the legal interpretation of the public sector equalities duty.

Councillor Stuart Barker, cabinet member for adult social care, said the new "gold plated assessment" would add an "excessive, costly and unreasonable layer of bureaucracy" on local authorities".

"This will divert millions of pounds away from the care of vulnerable people," he added.

"It concerns me that elderly people may be frightened or anxious hearing what these few care home owners are implying, that they may not receive a reasonable level of care or worse, that their homes may be at risk of closure, when that is not the case. Equality already runs 100% through everything we do."

The Devon Quality Care Forum (DQCF), which represents 14 care home owners in the South West and challenged a decision to raise fees by 6.6% this year, says up to 25 homes identified by the council as at risk could close. It says this would be catastrophic for the health of dementia sufferers, predicting that some patients would die as a result of the upheaval of moving. Alan Beale, managing director of South West Care Homes and the DQCF spokesman, said he was "shocked" adding: "In my care home in Plymouth, I get more for looking after people with dementia – in Devon I don't. This is not a case of bureaucratic process but clear discrimination against people with a debilitating and crippling disease."

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