The local government ombudsman has warned councils against cutting their financial contributions towards care for existing care home residents.
The ombudsman found Tameside MBC had acted wrongly in changing care commissioning arrangements, after the son of an 80-year-old woman with dementia complained about additional charges being imposed.
An investigation by the ombudsman found another 160 older people in Tameside and their families could be similarly affected.
Local government ombudsman Dr Jane Martin said: “Councils are entitled to take into account their resources when planning how they commission services, and many are experiencing particular pressure in adult care, but they must properly assess the impact of any changes on existing users and act in accordance with the law.
“I urge all authorities to look very closely at their plans, if they are changing care commissioning in their area, to ensure that no vulnerable residents are placed in a similar position.
“In this particular case, our complainant was in a very difficult situation. He could not move his mother and risk her health deteriorating, and he could not afford to pay the extra money the council demanded.”
Tameside MBC insisted it acted legally and correctly.
A council spokeswoman said: “While the council respects the independent role of the local government ombudsman, on this occasion the council strongly disputes the findings of the report that has been issued. The council categorically denies that it has not acted in accordance with the law.
“Unfortunately, the premature publication of the report by the ombudsman has prejudiced the council from challenging the report in the high court in the interests of residents. The report is fundamentally flawed in a number of respects, and there are question marks around whether the ombudsman has unlawfully exceeded her powers in issuing the report.”
A spokesman for the ombudsman declined to comment further on Tameside’s response.