National Ombudsmen
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Kent County Council overcharged when providing care services

An investigation by the Local Government Ombudsman (LGO) has found that Kent County Council overcharged the public for non-residential care services it provided for over 18 months.

The investigation upholds a complaint from one person that the council charged for care services before a financial assessment was made, which contravenes government guidelines.

In the process of the investigation the council has revealed that there will be others affected by its provisional charging policy, which was in place between April 2011 and December 2012.

As part of the recommendations to remedy the injustice, Kent County Council has been advised to carry out a review of all cases that would have been affected and refund any charges it shouldn’t have applied.

Nigel Ellis, Executive Director for Investigations at the LGO, said:

“Government policy is clear on the matter of provisional charging for care services – it explicitly states that no charge should be applied before the user has been told about the assessment of those charges. We want to remind other councils of the policy and ensure that they are correctly following guidelines.”

Councils are entitled to charge for non-residential care services. Government guidance, however, says they should not charge for a period of care before the council has completed a financial assessment and informed the person in writing of the charge.

In the case of the specific example that the investigation looked into, the LGO has recommended that the council waive the person’s provisional charge of £380 as well as pay £200 to the complainant for the time and trouble pursuing the complaint.